At a panel discussion on Friday, the Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP, Rhonda Blackmore, questioned Saskatchewan’s plan to create another police force.
The Saskatchewan Marshal Service (SMS) would supplement the work of other police forces in the province but Blackmore suggested the money could be better spent.
“Putting new equipment on the street with a new police service and why is there an advantage to that as opposed to giving those resources to the RCMP? You know we are established, we have buildings and vehicles and equipment and training for our members so we’re just looking for some answers,” she said.
At the meeting of rural municipalities, the crime rate and RCMP response times were identified as concerns.
Ray Orb, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, said they are of the opinion that they need to keep the RCMP in the province.
“That is our preferred service provider as far as policing and if there’s another service out there that the province is willing to pay for to complement that RCMP, we’d certainly like to have a closer look at that,” he said.
The SMS would place 70 additional officers in high crime areas, including rural Saskatchewan.
“This particular unit is not about front line policing. This of not about that. RCMP provide front line policing,” said Christine Tell, minister of policing and public safety.
Saskatchewan is seeking greater autonomy from the federal government in several key areas including immigration, taxation and policing. Creation of a provincial marshal’s service could be another step towards Saskatchewan’s goal.