Following this week’s speech from the throne, the Alberta government today announced an investment of $10 million in the fight against rural crime.
“Today in Alberta, especially in rural areas, people are concerned for the safety of their homes, their property, and the well-being of those they love,” said Her Honour, Lois Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, in the speech from the throne. “That must change.”
The New Democratic Party hopes their seven-point action plan will do just that, with $8 million going towards 39 new RCMP officers (including six new, intelligence-focused officers and four crime analysts), and 40 civilian staff. An additional $2 million will be used to hire additional Crown prosecutors.
“In recent years, crime rates have been rising in rural Alberta. The cause of this increase is complicated, and there are no easy solutions. However, we are pleased by the Government of Alberta’s investment and commitment to working with the AAMDC, rural municipalities, the RCMP and other partners to develop approaches to curb rural crime,” says Al Kemmere, president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties.
The key elements of the $10-million seven-point plan, according to a release:
- Crime reduction units: Specially trained officers will focus on arresting prolific offenders. This initiative will expand on a successful pilot project in Central Alberta.
- Specialized police intelligence: Six additional intelligence-focused RCMP officers plus four crime analyst positions will allow the RCMP to identify prolific offenders and target organized crime.
- Policing support centre: RCMP officers need to be on the streets protecting our communities, not behind a desk filling out paperwork. Twenty-three civilians will input investigative updates dictated over the phone by officers.
- More Crown prosecutors: $2 million will allow the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service to hire up to 10 Crown prosecutors who will focus solely on rural crime.
- Better coordination: Sharing information with Alberta sheriffs, Fish and Wildlife Enforcement, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and conservation officers will effectively make these officials additional “eyes and ears” for police.
- Enhanced technology: The RCMP will work with Alberta Justice and Solicitor General and other partners to explore new ways of using technology to target rural crime, including bait programs.
- Public education and engagement: The RCMP will engage and educate Albertans about crime prevention.
The Alberta Government will provide $8M to the effort, with the federal government adding an additional 30 percent, under the Provincial Police Service Agreement.
The Government of Alberta invested more than half a billion dollars into policing in 2017-18, including 1,560 officer positions in rural Alberta.