Posted on Mar 21, 2018

Keeping our communities safe

By Danielle Larivee, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake

Rural crime is an issue I’ve heard about often in our region since I was elected. I’ve been working closely with Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley on our shared commitment to keep rural communities safe and secure.

The Alberta government recently announced $10 million and a new seven-part strategy to help fight rural crime in communities across Alberta. We worked closely with the RCMP, who work day and night to keep our communities safe, to develop this strategy.

The realities of policing in rural and northern Alberta can be challenging. The RCMP have large areas to cover, which, as we all know, impacts response times, especially in more remote communities. While we can’t change Alberta‘s geography, we can listen to concerns from citizens and community partners, and we can take action.

This new strategy includes $8 million to hire 39 new police officers and 40 new staff, and another $2 million to ensure cases get heard in the courts. It will also help reduce crime by equipping RCMP officers with the tools they need to work more strategically and effectively.

The plan includes making greater use of technology to target criminals, including rural bait programs similar to the “bait car” programs used to target car thieves in many cities. It will also create crime reduction units with specially trained officers who will focus on arresting prolific offenders in rural Alberta, building on a successful pilot project in Central Alberta. Six new intelligence-focused officers and four crime analyst positions will allow police to identify these prolific offenders and target organized crime.

Twenty-three new civilian positions will help input investigative updates, freeing up more time for frontline officers to spend time on the streets investigating and solving crimes, and protecting our communities, instead of doing paperwork at their desks.

Up to 10 new Crown prosecutors focused solely on rural crime will allow the Crown more time to focus on prosecuting these prolific offenders.

Rural police officers are vital parts of our communities, here in Lesser Slave Lake, and across Alberta. They do difficult and extremely important work every day. I want to thank our dedicated policing partners for the work they do to protect Albertans. I’m confident this plan will give our rural police officers more tools in their toolbox to fight crime.

This government cares about rural Albertans and their safety. Investments like this one will help reduce the impact of crime and allow us to feel safer in our homes.

I’m proud to see that rather than cutting resources for front-line services, this government is investing in the safety and security of Albertans, no matter where they live.

First published March 21, 2018, in the High Prairie South Peace News