Alberta's Sheriff Highway Patrol have been helping to keep an eye in the public's safety the last few years.
They operate on provincial highways, working alongside the RCMP and Municipal Police services, covering approximately 30,000 kilometres of roads through Alberta.
As of July 2021, the Sheriff Highway Patrol (SHP) have had the authority to investigate criminal offences, including impaired driving.
"Impaired driving is considered the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. By empowering the Sheriff Highway Patrol to take impaired drivers off our highways, Alberta’s government is helping make our roads safer for everyone who uses them," explained the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services Mike Ellis in a media release on January 19th. "The Sheriff Highway Patrol is providing an outstanding example of what dedicated officers can achieve when they’re given the right tools for the job. I would like to thank the Alberta Sheriffs for their hard work in ensuring we all get home safe."
Since 2021, the SHP have caught nearly 4000 impaired drivers.
1217 of those were caught in 2023 alone, with 50 of those being commercial drivers that exceeded Alberta's zero-tolerance standards for drug and alcohol use while driving a commercial vehicle.
Bob Andrews, the Acting Chief of the Alberta Sheriffs, stated his praise for his team in the media release.
"I commend members of the Sheriff Highway Patrol for the commitment and focus they’ve shown toward preventing and detecting impaired driving: their efforts have surely saved lives. The work they do every day across our province helps ensure people reach their destination safely," stated the Acting Chief of the Alberta Sheriffs, Bob Andrews
On top of stopping impaired drivers, the Highway Patrol also issued 59,583 tickets related to speed, distracted driving, and commercial vehicle safety enforcement in 2023.
The Highway Patrol also conducted 12,154 commercial vehicle inspections, which includes trucks over 4500 kilograms, motor coaches, and school buses.
Of those inspections, SHP members found out-of-service violations in 4723 cases, which is 39 per cent of the vehicles inspected.
These violations primarily arose when inspectors found mechanical faults that required immediate attention, but also came from incidents of drivers exceeding limits on hours of service and other regulatory offences.
Expanding the SHP's responsibilities was part of the Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defense (RAPID) Response initiative, which was intended to help bolster the presence of law enforcement in rural areas.
Part of expanding their responsibilities involves funding to properly train and equip Highway patrollers to assist the RCMP, which includes keeping units on patrol to free up RCMP officers to respond to other incidents.
On top of that, according to the media release, "Between December 2023 and June 2024, the Alberta Sheriffs will complete training for three SHP recruit classes, resulting in 74 new officers ready for deployment. An additional class of 30 is expected to begin in fall 2024."