File photo

Government invests $10 million to fight rural crime

Provincial and federal funding to be used for more officers, civilian staff and Crown prosecutors

The Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley and RCMP Deputy Commissioner Todd Shean just announced $10 million is being invested to combat rural crime. The provincial government is providing the first $8 million and of the remaining $2 million the federal government will contribute 70 percent under the Provincial Police Service Agreement(PPSA) and the remaining 30 percent will be contributed by the Government of Canada.

“This funding will enable us to greatly expand our crime-reduction efforts across Alberta and strengthen our criminal intelligence program,” said Shean.

When contacted by Black Press, March 9, RCMP media relations group spokesperson Cpl. Laurel Scott said the increased funding program is still in its initial stage, so where and how the money is going to be spent is not yet known.

“I don’t know where the province/RCMP has allocated it’s money/positions,” stated Scott in an email.

The announcement also included descriptions of several staffing positions under the new funding. Thirty-nine new officers and 40 civilian staff will be hired with the first $8 million and the rest will be used to hire Crown prosecutors focused solely on rural crime.

Ganley also shared a seven-point action plan intended to help protect rural Albertans and their property. The plan includes crime reduction units, specialized police intelligence, a policing support centre, more Crown prosecutors, better coordinations, enhanced technology and public education and engagement.

“If you are committing crime in Alberta, we will identify you and we will stop you,” said Shean.

The action plan places the focus on sharing information to help RCMP identify and arrest repeat offenders. The plan also includes hiring more staff to carry out routine tasks so officers are freed up to spend more time on patrol and in the community checking up on potential problems.

“While there’s no single easy solution to fix rural crime, our strategy puts several important tools in the crime-fighting toolbox. More civilian staff means more frontline officers on the street, while more Crown prosecutors will mean more timely access to justice,” Ganley said.

The crime reduction units will consist of specially trained officers focused on arresting repeat offenders. The RCMP also plans to bring in six more intelligence-focused officers and four crime analysts to target organized crime.

Cpl. Scott described the positions, writing: “The crime analysts will be civilian staff. The intelligence officers will be RCMP regular members.”

The new support centre will consist of 23 civilians to record investigative updates officers dictate over the phone. This information will be shared with sheriffs, Fish and Wildlife Enforcement, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and conservation officers, coordinating the efforts of all official law enforcement throughout Alberta.

The RCMP will be working with Alberta Justice and Solicitor General as well as other partners to look into using technology in new ways such as creating bait programs to help deal with rural crimes.

The PPSA provides policing to all rural municipalities at no direct costs. This includes municipal districts, counties and Metis settlements of any population, as well as towns, villages and summer villages with populations under 5,000.

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