Province kicking in $10 million to fight rural crime
SANDRA M STANWAY
Although there is great concern about rural crime across the province few concerns were heard from Rolling Hills residents at the first Rural Crime Prevention meeting last Tuesday.
“I wasn’t getting the impression that it was a huge issue but I do think everyone is concerned because it still happens,” said Brooks Cpl. David Searle.
“What we’re showing is that it’s been pretty much status quo across the board for our rural stats. Nothing really has changed.”
However, that doesn’t mean rural residents should not take precautions against potential property or person crime which was part of the discussion.
“Residents should take preventative measures,” he said.
Those measures include locking vehicle doors and removing keys, locking your home and adding security systems, cameras and lighting.
Searle was asked about a landowner’s right to protect their property.
“The problem with that is it’s so situational. We can’t give a black and white answer as to what you can do,” he said.
The group discussed the authority given to anyone to defend their property or life under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Protection of property is a hot topic in Alberta. In Okotoks, rancher Edouard Maurice was charged with aggravated assault, pointing a firearm and careless use of a firearm after shots were fired at intruders on his property.
Maurice could see jail time. He appeared in Okotoks Provincial Court last Friday and is rescheduled to appear in April.
The intruder who received a wound to his arm was charged with theft under $5,000 from a motor vehicle, trespassing at night, failing to comply with probation and possession of methamphetamine. Those charges may not result in jail time.
A few days earlier, a not guilty verdict was announced for a Saskatchewan man who shot and killed a 22-year-old intruder on his property in 2016.
The province has also recognized the concerns around the issue.
Last Friday they announced a $10 million program to fight rural crime.
The province will contribute $8 million for crime reduction units, six additional intelligence-focused police, four crime analysts and 23 civilian employees to input information for officers on patrol.
The federal government’s 30 per cent contribution under the Provincial Police Service Agreement will be used to hire up to 10 Crown prosecutors who will focus solely on rural crime.
Police will also shift some of their work to civilian workers.
In Brooks additional responsibilities are starting to move to Jolene Fraser, the Brooks and District Safe Communities facilitator.
Searle said the message they are pushing is when you see anything suspicious call the police.
“We are not too busy in Brooks that we won’t respond to that. If you call us because something seems suspicious, we will come. We want people to phone us and not hem and haw and wait until the next day.
“We want people to phone us as it’s happening. We will come check it out,” he said.
The next Rural Crime Prevention and community consultation meeting is at the Bassano community hall on March 15.
Cpl. Bruce McDonald is encouraging residents to attend to discuss his department’s priorities.
On March 21 the rural crime meeting will move to the Duchess Library and the final one will be held at the county’s office on March 27.
All meetings start at 7 p.m.