The discussion about continued funding of the city’s Public Security Unit pilot project until December 2023 is going to Grande Prairie city council.
Sergeant Ross Gear with Enforcement Services explains the unit is made up of eight security officers who supplement the work Enforcement Services and the RCMP do in the city. The unit provides dedicated security and enforcement to areas like the downtown core which requires enhanced visibility and patrol.
“They are agents for the city which means they can deal with loitering and trespassing or any other security issue on city property,” Gear says. “We also have many businesses from downtown, giving Enforcement Services and, by default, the Public Security Unit agent status to deal with any issues on their property, which pretty much encompasses most of the buildings downtown.”
The pilot project launched in August 2022, after city council directed administration to explore ways to reduce crime and increase crime prevention in the downtown core. Council originally approved $500,000 from the Future Expenditures Reserve in December of 2021, which funded the pilot project for 12 months, meaning the pilot would be up this upcoming August.
Since the pilot started, the PSU has conducted 2,029 proactive patrols and responded to 2,611 incidents including assault, theft, trespassing, and overdoses. From those incidents RCMP made 96 arrests, Peace Officers were called to assist 83 times, and EMS was called 12 times.
“I think the strongest aspect of the Public Security Unit has been the patrols late at night,” says Gear. “They have been able to patrol the downtown core and other hot spots late at night, at times when the RCMP are busy, and enforcement we don’t have 24-hour coverage so that certainly has filled in some of the gaps.”
If council approves funding the extension of the program, $710,000 would be allocated from the Future Expenditures Reserve to fund the PSU from April to December 2023.