After first moving to Lethbridge in 1885, the RCMP no longer have a detachment in the city.
The force originally rented a butcher shop, before moving into barracks on what is now the city’s Civic Common in 1886, spending the next 135 years in that area.
“This is historic that the (Royal Canadian) Mounted Police are no longer in this building and on this site,” Lethbridge Historical Society president Belinda Crowson said.
“This area of town has been known as Barracks Square and now that has changed.”
Everything will now operate out of the new building in Coaldale, Alta.
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Staff Sgt. Mike Numan said the old facilities in Lethbridge, which were constructed in the 1950s, had become outdated.
“We didn’t have any kind of cell block for prisoners (or) interview rooms that were properly set up,” Numan said. “In conjunction with the Town of Coaldale, the province and the county we decided it would be great to move.”
According to Crowson, Lethbridge was home to the RCMP’s K Division and the city had a huge police presence, with more than 150 officers.
“There was a guard room, there were gardens… quarters for the men, stables,” Crowson said. “This entire area between 9 (Street) and 11 (Street) and 4 (Avenue) and 6 (Avenue) was all (Royal Canadian) Mounted Police.”
And the Mounties continued to have a presence when what was then the Town of Lethbridge introduced its own police force in 1902.
“We had a riot in 1907 that took both the (Royal Canadian) Mounted Police and the city police to put down,” Crowson said. “There were a lot of times that the two had co-operation even though (they) had their own jurisdictions.”
The RCMP will still be part of joint units with other law enforcement agencies in the city, but Stafford Drive will no longer be called home.
“You think of the memories in that building or in the buildings that were on that site before — and all the different decades that have passed — it’s hard, but progression has to happen,” Numan said.
“I know we’re confident we’re providing a better service to the public in this new location.”
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