Civilian oversight of police

Our ministry sets the standards for effective policing across Alberta, while police commissions and RCMP policing committees oversee policing in the province’s municipalities.

Members of a police commission or policing committee are usually citizens from the local community. They can include city employees and/or town council members.

The rules for police commissions and policing committees are defined in the Police Act.

Police commissions

Each one must:

  • produce a yearly budget and plan that specifies the level of police service and desired policing programs (includes input from the chief of police)
  • submit the yearly budget and plan to the city/town council
  • allocate budget funds provided by the council
  • establish policies for efficient and effective policing
  • instruct the chief of police, as needed, about policing policies
  • ensure that the police service has enough staff to perform its duties
  • appoint a chief of police (subject to the council’s approval)
  • appoint a public complaint director to receive complaints against police

RCMP policing committees

Each one must:

  • oversee the administration of the Police Service Agreement
  • assist in selecting the officer in charge for the police service
  • communicate the council’s interests to the officer in charge
  • develop a yearly plan that outlines policing priorities and strategies (includes input from the officer in charge)
  • consult with the officer in charge about how to implement the yearly plan
  • communicate the public’s interests and concerns to the officer in charge
  • help the officer in charge resolve public complaints
  • appoint a public complaint director to receive complaints against police

Police commissions and RCMP policing committees don’t oversee the daily operations of police services. This is the responsibility of police chiefs or RCMP detachment commanders.

Provincial network

The Alberta Association of Police Governance brings together police commissions and policing committees. Its mandate is to “support excellence in civilian governance of police services in Alberta.”

Learn more