By Kevin J. Sabo For the Independent
“Lock it or lose it,” was the message the crowd of about 30 residents heard at a rural crime reduction meeting hosted by Stettler County at the Erskine school on June 7.
The meeting was a response to a spike in crime in the area. Stettler County council struck a committee to look into the issues and opened public dialogue through meetings such as this one.
Issues covered ranged from what community members can do to minimize crime, with “Lock it or lose it” being one key. This means keeping your vehicles and homes locked and keeping valuables out of sight.
Lee Hardman, the new director of protective services in the County of Stettler, spoke on the concept of CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design), which focuses on making properties less hospitable to criminals. CPTED is achievable by clearing sight lines out of one’s windows, trimming trees to under six feet, shrubs to two feet, ensuring there’s adequate lighting on the property and creating a sense of ownership. These things can reduce the likelihood of falling victim to theft. Having hard barriers such as gates also are beneficial.
Director Hardman Cpl. Cam Russell of the Stettler RCMP detachment gave the RCMP perspective of crime reduction.
“Stettler is a great community,” he said but added that even great communities can have things happen. If there is an active emergency “911 is the go to.”
The complaint number for RCMP dispatch in Red Deer is 403-742-3381.
As for information that needs to be provided to the RCMP if you are calling 911, Cpl. Russell said the two biggest pieces of information someone can provide in an emergency are your location and your name and birthdate. With this information, the RCMP know where they’re going and who they’re looking for if the call gets cut off. Other information that can assist are characteristics of any suspicious vehicles or occupants, vehicle decals and a partial or full licence plate.
Community members have formed a group on the popular phone app called “What’s App.” The group uses the app in case of emergency to send texts to others in the area for help. Their local group is made up of 200 or so neighbours that can come to someone’s aid or call 911 if the person texting is not able to. County Coun. Cheri Neitz said the county hired two additional peace officers for the region, bringing the total to three, which is an extra law enforcement presence.
Some community members voiced frustration over what they see as a “revolving door” justice system, however, the community was assured that the county and law enforcement are taking the situation seriously and looking for solutions. The county can be contacted for more information on the “What’s App” groups.
Stettler regional protective services can be reached at 403-741-6133 24-hours a day and can help resolve most criminal matters. If you happen to witness a criminal matter or emergency dial 911 and don’t attempt to intervene and turn a property crime into a personal crime.