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Fort Macleod lays off peace officers following changes to provincial funding

The Town of Fort Macleod has made the decision to lay off its two community peace officers following changes made to provincial policing programs.
The Town of Fort Macleod has made the decision to lay off its two community peace officers following changes made to provincial policing programs. Global News

The Town of Fort Macleod has officially withdrawn from its agreement with the solicitor general’s office of Alberta for the provision of community peace officers (CPOs).

Two CPOs were officially laid off on Monday, following changes made to the provincial CPO program.

Sue Keenan, the chief administrative officer of Fort Macleod, said the decision to lay off its CPOs was not taken lightly, but the cost of keeping the officers was too high after the recent funding changes.

“Our small community has made the determination, and it was left to me, that we can’t afford both,” Keenan said.

“We can’t afford spending just over $400,000 a year on policing and a CPO program.”

READ MORE: Rural municipalities sound alarm over Alberta’s review of police funding

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Keenan said the province’s decision to have some communities pay more for their own policing is a huge cost to the town of 4,000 residents.

“Small communities under 5,000 were never [previously] asked to contribute to policing costs,” Keenan said.

“That was always a provincial responsibility.”

Keenan said she feels smaller municipalities should have been given extra consideration for having community peace officers in place.

READ MORE: Community Peace Officers trained and ready to patrol Lethbridge solo

“There has been absolutely no recognition of rural communities that actually pay for CPOs — to the tune of $200,000 or $300,000 a year — by the province or the RCMP towards that policing cost,” Keenan said. “And there is something wrong with that picture in my mind.”

The town plans to hire a bylaw officer by April 1.