Alberta’s government has announced a range of new measures in an effort to keep Albertans safe on the streets and on public transit.
On Tuesday, Premier Danielle Smith, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, and other officials gathered to announce several new measures, including recruiting and training more police officers, to address what she called “a red line that has been crossed.”
“Almost every day, Albertans are waking up to news that someone in their city has been attacked or murdered,” Smith claimed.
Over the next 18 months, the province will develop a plan to hire 100 street-level officers to increase the law enforcement presence in Calgary and Edmonton.
In addition, the province is encouraging the City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton to transfer command and control of transit peace officers to Calgary and Edmonton police services to better coordinate their response to crime on transit.
Between July 2022 and January 2023, Edmonton’s LRT and transit centres experienced an increase in violent criminal incidents of 75%.
In Calgary, overall criminal occurrences at LRT stations increased by 46% between 2021 and 2022.
On top of the additional police, Alberta’s government will invest nearly $8 million over three years to increase the number of police and crisis teams (PACT) in both Calgary and Edmonton. PACT pairs police with mental health therapists to respond to 911 calls where there is a mental health concern.
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The funding will double the number of PACT teams in Calgary from 12 to 24 and triple the number in Edmonton from six to 18.
“These additional resources will help us to gather what we need to get ahead of the concerning spike in crime and particularly violent crime that we are witnessing in areas like our downtown core and transit stations across Edmonton,” said Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee.
“The support, not just for police but for PACT, means prioritizing those who need support while ensuring appropriate focus on safety. Centring police as leaders within this work shows a key understanding that we cannot have well-being if we don’t have safety.”
Mayor Gondek said she was “encouraged” to see an expansion of the PACT Teams.
Additionally, each city will receive a $5 million grant to help keep train station platforms and vehicles clean.