The Lethbridge Police Service receiving approval from the Justice Minister and Solicitor General to allow its Community Peace Officers to hit the streets.

The first group of CPOs graduated from cadet training last month and while they’ve gone through the same training as regular police officers, their duties will be limited.

Chief Rob Davis says some people view this type of “tiered policing” as a negative thing but he says it’s nothing new in Alberta and points to the mid-2000s when the Peace Officer Act was created. The passing of that legislation saw, as one example, Alberta Sheriffs doing highway functions that used to be with the RCMP.

Davis says Lethbridge is unique in that the LPS is the authorized employer of CPOs, instead of some other department of the city, adding they will be dispatched through the Public Safety Communication Centre as well.

Since CPOs are given the same training as police officers, Davis says they will gain experience in the community and when a vacancy occurs, can receive top-up training with a Field Training Officer and hit the street as a regular officer in short order. Under the “old system” the LPS would have had to wait for 10-12 vacancies before it could financially justify a recruit class.