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Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer makes a statement at a news conference in Calgary on Dec. 31, 2019.

Todd Korol/The Canadian Press

The RCMP says it will add 76 additional Mounties to Alberta this year, many of whom will serve as front-line police in rural detachments outside major municipalities.

There will also be 57 new civilian support positions.

RCMP say some of the additional Mounties are to serve in detachments at Beaverlodge, Edson, Evansburg, Mayerthorpe and Valleyview.

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In the south, detachments in Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks and Strathmore will get more police.

New Mounties are to be assigned to the central district, including in Camrose, Blackfalds, Leduc, Morinville, Parkland, Rocky Mountain House, Stettler, Strathcona and Thorsby.

More RCMP are also being assigned to work in Athabasca, Bonnyville, Cold Lake, Elk Point and St. Paul.

Officials say the staffing increase is part of a five-year, $286-million policing agreement announced by the Alberta government in December.

“Rural Albertans asked for action against rising crime, and our government responded with Alberta’s largest single investment in policing since the RCMP’s March West,” Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said Thursday in a release.

“Putting more boots on the ground in rural Alberta will help protect residents and ensure they feel safe in their communities.”

The force says so far it has filled 25 of the front-line positions in rural communities and 18 centralized police to provide support and specialized services to all rural detachments.

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Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, Alberta’s top Mountie, said the additional funding is in response to concerns expressed by rural Alberta communities.

He said the RCMP is committed to continuing to provide Albertans with the high-quality, modern provincial police service that they expect and deserve.

“The RCMP is committed to working in partnership with our communities to ensure Albertans feel safe in their homes, in their backyards and in their farm yards,” Deputy Commissioner Zablocki said in a release.

Last month, Alberta’s government-appointed Fair Deal Panel recommended the province examine the idea of creating a provincial police force. The panel suggested the RCMP is becoming too bureaucratically inflexible and smaller communities aren’t getting enough front-line officers.

Premier Jason Kenney has said his government will study the recommendation.

Under the program announced by the province in December, small and rural communities, with some exceptions, are to begin contributing part of their front-line policing costs starting this year.

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