On Sept. 15th, the RCMP will be holding a regimental ball to help celebrate the 75 anniversary of the RCMP’s Red Deer City Detachment.
In April 1943, the Red Deer City Police Department was disbanded. A contract was subsequently signed with the RCMP to provide municipal policing in the community.
Actually, the RCMP had a presence in Red Deer and area for almost 60 years prior to the creation of the City detachment. In 1886, a detachment of 13 Mounted Police was stationed at Fort Normandeau, just west of the current site of the City.
Fortunately, there was very little crime in the Red Deer area.
Consequently, the number of men stationed at Fort Normandeau was substantially reduced. In 1893, the regional detachment was moved into the new hamlet of Red Deer.
In 1901, when Red Deer was incorporated as a town, the new Town council decided that Red Deer should have its own municipal police force.
For many years, that police department was very modest. There was generally just a police chief and one or two additional constables, with one of those covering the night shift.
Meanwhile, the RCMP (or Royal North West Mounted Police as it was then known) continued to have a one or two constables stationed in Red Deer.
They were responsible for the serious criminal cases and for rural policing.
In 1917, the provincial government established the Alberta Provincial Police (A.P.P) with a regional detachment at Red Deer. The A.P.P. took over most of the criminal cases as well as the enforcement of the new Prohibition laws on alcohol.
A couple of RCMP constables continued to be assigned to Central Alberta for very serious crimes and enforcement of some federal laws.
By the early 1930s, the Province of Alberta found itself in severe financial difficulties. Despite tight budget controls, the cost of the A.P.P. had risen to many times the old provincial contract with the RCMP.
Consequently, the A.P.P. was disbanded in 1932. The RCMP again took over the primary responsibility for policing in Alberta.
Meanwhile, the Red Deer Police Department was frequently beset with significant problems.
The biggest one was funding. City council was often faced with very tight budgets. Therefore spending on police was kept well below what the police chief felt was needed.
Equipment was generally limited to a few 38-calibre revolvers, some truncheons and night lamps.
A telephone in the police office provided most of the communication. In the 1930s, the police chief asked City council to purchase a police car.
The request was turned down. Instead, arrangements were made for the City police to use taxicabs in cases of emergency.
Salaries for City police remained low ($75 per month after the end of First World War). Recruitment of properly trained constables was therefore challenging.
For many years, the very low crime rate in the community kept the problems with adequate policing in the City manageable.
However, Red Deer began to experience a noticeable increase in crime during the later stages of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The outbreak of the Second World War created a manpower crisis across Canada as recruitment for the military jumped dramatically.
The City found it all but impossible to recruit constables. Hence, in 1943, the Red Deer Police Department was disbanded and replaced with the City detachment of RCMP.
Over the years, the cost of the municipal police contract has increased greatly over the initial $5,000 per year. The size of the detachment has also been increased significantly from a few constables to 170 today.
While the Red Deer City Police Department operated out of a small office in City Hall, the RCMP City detachment initially shared space with the Public Library in a small building north of City Hall.
The City detachment moved to the new City Hall in 1964 and a police building on 49th St. in 1973.
There are now three RCMP stations in the City – the main detachment office on 45th St., a smaller office on 67th St. and regional offices on 55th St.