Policing the Wild North-West: A Sociological Study of the Provincial Police in Alberta and Saskatchewan, 1905-32

By Zhiqiu Lin | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION: THE
RETURN OF THE RCMP

“Instead of being the end, it is the start of a new beginning.” – APP Acting
Commissioner Hancock, 19321

The enforcement of the unpopular prohibition legislation was detrimen tal to the professional image of both provincial police forces. However, the legitimation crises did not ruin the police entirely. In fact, the forces gradually regained some popularity after the prohibition legislation was repealed in 1924. It was budgetary considerations that finally led the pro vincial governments to dissolve the provincial police and to re-employ the RCMP. The SPP and APP were disbanded in 1928 and 1932, respectively, after policing Alberta and Saskatchewan for more than a decade. The process of disbanding the police forces provided further evidence that the manifold police tasks were shaped directly by government policies and sometimes by individual politicians who happened to be in charge of the police.

Maintaining provincial police forces in Alberta and Saskatchewan was a large burden for the often meagre provincial coffers. Since the estab lishment of the provincial police forces in 1917, the expenses to sustain the forces had increased exponentially in both provinces.2 Soon after the establishment of the forces, both provincial governments recognized that the expenditure on policing could be curtailed as there was a federal police force – the RCMP – with more than a hundred policemen in each province, with relatively little work to perform. In fact, following the end of World War I, the RCMP were confined to the enforcement of a few federal statutes, such as the Inland Revenue Act, the Indian Act, and other acts exclusive of the Criminal Code.

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