UPDATE: The city has budgeted for four new RCMP officers for 2017.
There were more RCMP officers added to the Grande Prairie detachment in 2016 and there is a possibility there could be more added this year. Staff Sergeant in charge of Operations Dwayne Helgeson says the nine officers added to the team have given them the opportunity to form a crime reduction unit.
“It is something we see as a win. It works and it has worked very effectively. It has worked better than we originally thought. Almost all of our habitual offenders, I think, have been incarcerated. We will be looking at putting another list of habitual offenders together.”
One of the many contributing factors to a lower crime rate is the business in the community. Helgeson explains that if the city does boom again, they will be set up nicely to take the community on with more officers. In 2017, he says there is discussions about adding four more positions and one in the county.
One of the larger challenges in Helgeson’s eyes is the age of the officers.
“It’s a very young detachment. Across Canada, policing in general, not just the RCMP, have undergone a transformation where a lot of the older people are retiring and a lot of the younger people are coming in. We have brought in so many that we are a very young force… a very junior force.”
He says they love having the younger members because some of them will have younger kids going to school and they will often spend more time in the community because of it.