Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins holds up Toward a Safer Alberta: Addressing Rural Crime, which contains the results of the research conducted by the rural crime task force composed of MPs in rural ridings in Alberta. Robin Grant/Red Deer Express

Rural crime task force results released at Agri-Trade luncheon

Report cites problems with police not being able to keep up with crime and justice system issues

Results of the rural crime task force created by MPs who represent rural ridings in Alberta was released at a Rural Crime symposium in Red Deer on Friday.

The final report, called Toward a Safer Alberta: Addressing Rural Crime, found that Albertans are increasingly troubled about their safety with the increase in crime and felt emphasis should be placed on preventing crime, improving the criminal justice system and creating targeted reforms to address the problem, the report reads.

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins made the presentation at the symposium held during Agri-Trade that focused on creating strategies to deal with the problem of rising crime in rural Alberta. He was also joined by Yellowhead MP Jim Eglinski.

In particular, Calkins said the task force learned that RCMP operating in rural areas have trouble keeping up as crime increases. There are not enough police to cover the large rural areas, he said, and residents are frustrated.

“When you take a look at the number of police officers per square kilometre like the Rocky Mountain House Detachment for example, it has 9,600 square kilometres to cover with a handful of RCMP officers,” he said. “It’s almost an impossible task.”

He said the issue is also with the criminal justice system being too easy on convicted criminals.

“I’m of the opinion, and I think a lot of people that I represent are of the opinion, that our criminal justice system is a revolving door and the catch and release system is actually part of the problem,” he said.

He said police do their job of tracking people who commit crimes down and getting them before courts, but these criminals end up getting released and reoffend.

Another issue Calkins raised was that rural Alberta residents are no longer reporting crimes because it is constantly recurring.

He said this leads to incorrect information being collected and a lack of real knowledge about the crime problem.

“The problem might actually be worse than we think it is,” he said. “Policymakers rely on accurate data so I would always encourage people to report their crimes.”

Results of the task force led to Motion 167, a federal motion to address rural crime getting passed in parliament and the launch of a parliamentary study on rural crime, Calkins said.

Charlene Thomas from Red Deer County attended the luncheon. She said she was glad to hear of the initiative and that there, “Might be some bite behind laws to prevent individuals from carrying out crimes.”

Pat Siebold from Clearwater County said she wanted to find out what solutions were in the works.

“What really came out today was that the police cannot keep up with the crime and that we need to make it a community endeavour,” she said. “I think most farmers are very good about checking in with each other, and we maybe need to ramp that up and start reporting any kind of suspicious behaviour or unknown vehicles.”

Just Posted

MP Sorenson: New Year, New Beginning?

Economic outlook not so bright in coming months

Stettler Library has lots programs for public

Memberships are free for county and town residents

MLA: You don’t vote for the tail

Bureaucracy overtakes elected representatives

Our Town Stettler: Convalescent Hospital opened in 1954 first of its kind

Gave Stettler forward-thinking reputation for helping an ageing population

WATCH: World-renowned illusionist, magician, escapist performs in Stettler

Matt Johnson performs two sold-out shows at Stettler Performing Arts Centre

‘Gotti’ leads Razzie nominations, Trump up for worst actor

The nominations were announced on Monday, Jan. 21 with some movies earning up to six nominations

PHOTO: Eyes turn to heavens to witness super blood wolf moon

These two photos show the lunar eclipse about 30 minutes apart from each other.

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country

WATCH: Team Alberta in Red Deer this weekend to prepare for Canada Winter Games

About 250 Team Alberta athletes toured venues and tested out facilities Saturday

Most Read