Alberta’s $10M rural crime strategy includes more officers, better co-ordination

Tracking technology for farm equipment and vehicles will also be utilized

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 Friday, will cost $10 million. It includes 39 new officers, 40 civilian staff and anywhere from 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,” said justice minister and solicitor general Kathleen Ganley, 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 for arresting 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. They will also provide officers with investigative updates over the phone.

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 explained.

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 a right to protect their property with whatever means necessary, even if it’s with a gun.

But 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.”

The entire province of Alberta, both urban and rural, has seen about a 35 per cent spike in property crime from 2011 to 2016, according to Statistics Canada. Saskatchewan has seen an increase of about 4 per cent and Manitoba has experienced about a 10 per cent increase.

Contact jeremy.simes@producer.com

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  • John Fefchak

    “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.”
    Yes…the system is broken!
    The better options that I recognize are only “more security” … like locks, electrified fences, barbed wire, gates, barred windows, installing cameras, and having attack dogs. “We imprison ourselves and cower from the threat of thieves” Why should “our freedom” be forfeited for such invasions. …just because the media says so?
    “O’ Canada, We stand on guard for thee.”
    I am a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces

    • Harold

      What the numb minded police officers are saying in turn is that a criminal “risking personal safety is unnecessary and dangerous” so they advise us to reduce the criminals danger. Does that come with a little Trudeau weed to smoke and what were the police really doing with the entire weed that they confiscated? John, can these same police officers with all of their collective reasoning and wisdom wrap their heads around the notion that – risking personal safety is NECESSARY and dangerous when combating crime? Do you think that they need to go to military school to understand it? Given your comment, can I humorously say that your property defenses are strikingly similar to military defenses and the war torn abroad? The only difference is that our “military” (citizenry) have no guns or “guns” and the only resolve is to retreat; that’s how you win a crime war and stand for Canada isn’t it? What Country are we living in? The “strong and free” are the criminals and we the law abiding citizenry are the what? The national anthem says “stand” three times and we still don’t get it and we think it means to lock ourselves up and then to sit like the school children of government. The government and its agencies and law enforcement erode meanings and they DO NOT put the meaning in the National Anthem; the People of Canada do. Like you, I am alarmed by the Peoples inaction and its time that the law abiding wakes up and stand for something. We know that the government has eroded our Rights and freedoms – we feel it and see it – and unchallenged, that is what these agencies do. However, we are not sunk and neither are we hopeless, because all laws that hinder us can be repealed but only if the people “stand on guard” for it – is our freedom restored. Oh Canada, we all sit on guard for thee and let the government and agency dictate and do to us whatever the hell it wants – especially if it is raining outside or there is a chance of clouds forecast by the media, police, or government. To totally disrespect yourself you only need to respect what the government and media have to say and I’m not quite there yet; my damn education seems to be holding me back.

    • sharpur

      The question to ask (if you want a long term solution) is “what is going on in the lives of the “thieves”.

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