Alberta introduces new rural crime strategy

Rural Albertans can expect more RCMP officers on the ground, more civilian staff and more crown prosecutors to fight crime in their communities.

The strategy, outlined by the province March 9, will cost $10 million. It includes 39 new officers, 40 civilian staff and eight to 10 crown prosecutors. As well, the plan includes tracking technologies for farm equipment and better co-ordination between RCMP detachments.

“Some communities in rural Alberta are experiencing the highest property crime rates they’ve seen in five years,” Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said during the funding announcement.

“Like many Albertans, this spike in rural crime worries me.”

One of the main focuses of the strategy involves four crime reduction units. The units will include officers who are specifically trained to arrest high-profile criminals and ones who are trained to do intelligence and criminal analysis. To ensure officers are on the ground, civilian employees will be hired to do much of the paperwork.

As well, the units will co-ordinate with one another to target criminal hot spots in the province. They will also work with Alberta sheriffs, Fish and Wildlife officers, commercial vehicle enforcement and conservation officers.

The 39 new officers will be divided equally among the units, but they could be moved around if some areas require more resources. In fact, some officers are already out working, according to Todd Shean, the deputy commissioner and commanding officer with the Alberta RCMP.

“This will allow us to respond to crime trends with a precise, rapid and informed strategy,” Shean said during the news conference.

“We can’t do targeted operations without them (the crime reduction units).”

As well, police will work with people in the community when it comes to tracking. For example, Shean said officers will work with groups to place tracking devices on vehicles or farm equipment so they can follow it if it’s stolen.

“If we have areas of the province being targeted, we would partner with those areas and have an agreement where we could have bait vehicles or bait tractors,” he said.

While many agree the new funding will be helpful, the rise in rural crime across the Prairies has been alarming for farmers and ranchers.

Most producers argue the system is broken, and that thieves who intrude on their land should face harsher sentences. As well, even though it’s against the law, some have also suggested they have the right to protect their property with whatever means necessary, even if it’s with a gun.

However, Shean said any crime should be left for law enforcement to deal with.

“What we’re asking here is for Albertans to partner with us,” he said.

“Make that call and allow our officers that are highly skilled and highly trained to respond to those calls for service.”

He said the days of leaving keys in cars and not locking doors are over.

“You want to make those crimes harder to commit by locking up and creating a protective environment,” he said.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of reporting criminal activity. Risking personal safety is unnecessary and dangerous.”

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  • Brad Walls

    Someone correct me if I am wrong about any of this but isn’t the response times of officers to rural crime largely based off distance from the officer’s current location to the location of the rural crime? How does adding more officers and support staff decrease the amount of travel time from point A to point B? Without adding satellite stations throughout rural areas to bring, what I’ll call the resting position of the officers (not to claim they are all relaxed and not working but more as a reference to starting location), closer to potential crime areas I can’t see this plan reducing response times.

    • Harold

      Generally speaking, the duration of a crime can be anywhere between 2 minutes and 15 minutes. The property owner will always be the first responder if at home at the time. A police officer arriving on time is only the luck of the draw. The extra police officers may have a better chance of catching the criminal but it will be after the event and circumstantial. I believe that there is too much crime, too many traffic calls, too many investigations, too many laws, and being such the police can no longer be effective regardless of how many staff they employ. At one time we did get by with our standards of law enforcement but our growth in population no longer supports it and it is painfully obvious. The police force now needs law abiding citizens to aid them in a more substantial way than ever before. but it wont be done with citizen’s armed with pea shooters and white flags as they are now. A citizenry police force does not cost the taxpayer a cent other than the costs of sending the Perp. to jail where they belong.


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