Alberta Sheriffs to patrol Calgary streets with police to address public safety in downtown Calgary

Starting Feb. 27, 12 Alberta sheriffs for 12 weeks will be on downtown streets in partnership with Calgary police officers to try and deter social disorder and criminal activity.

“No one should feel scared or afraid to go out at night,” said Mike Ellis, minister of Alberta’s public safety and emergency services.

“No child should be frightened to wait to wait for a bus or city transit, and no one should worry about going downtown.”

Premier Danielle Smith said last Thursday, that the pilot could include Alberta sheriffs patrolling the streets and LRT platforms, similar to Edmonton.

“Our sheriffs came forward and volunteered for those positions (in Edmonton),” Smith said.

“They want to help too, they want to make sure that there is active policing that there’s active presence, because here’s one of the things that I would say, is that police officers are often the point of contact to convince somebody to get into treatment.”

Chief Mark Neufeld of the Calgary Police Service told CTV News on Tuesday that the program is a move of commitment to public safety.

“Sheriffs are peace officers so certainly their levels of authority is different and not quite as expansive as police officers, but they certainly, when it comes to enforcing limited criminal code offences as well as provincial offences – which is lots of what we see on transit and that type of thing – they’re certainly well qualified to do that,” Neufeld said.

“Very similar to our transit peace officers.”

Neufeld adds that it takes time to train police officers, and it’s not something that happens overnight.

“I think we’ve heard from Calgarians that there’s a feeling of unease around some of the public spaces in the downtown and transit, so I think ourselves and Calgary Transit and Calgary Bylaw have been very committed to the work there to support Calgarians.

“We’re certainly open to working with partners, especially during this time when we have some staffing shortages, to make sure that Calgarians are feeling safe.”

In Edmonton, the province announced a 15-week pilot project where about a dozen sheriffs will patrol downtown streets.

They will assist police with crime and disorder.

The program will end May 31 and Ellis says the province will reassess whether it will continue or pursue another plan.

“We will do whatever it takes if it requires you know more injection of, I hate to use the word money, but if it requires more money to make Calgarians feel safe then that is precisely what we’re going to do,” said Ellis.

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