The province’s latest efforts to fight rural crime have checked off every box on the Grande Prairie & District Rural Crime Watch Association’s wish list. President Wayne Davies says the measures announced Friday are what they came up with and presented to RCMP, Alberta Justice, and other officials in early 2016.
“It’s everything that, I think, we’ve been asking for at the provincial level and at the local level. Three years ago when we did our project, we asked for these exact things in the action plan we presented.”
The Alberta government unveiled a $8 million plan to hire more RCMP officers and civilian staff. $2 million is also being spent to hire up to 10 Crown prosecutors who will focus solely on rural crime, which Davies says is sorely needed for the Grande Prairie region.
“They were throwing out a lot of the smaller cases so that the prosecutors could handle the big ones that were, I guess, more violent than some of the B&Es that were out on the Crime Watch area. Now they should be able to handle everything.”
Part of the plan is to create more crime reduction units with specially trained officers focused on arresting prolific offenders. One has been operating in western Alberta since early February, and Davies says it’s already having an impact.
“We’ve reduced the crime rate in the County [of Grande Prairie] and the general area because these units just concentrate on that kind of crime. It’s really worked well, and I think with the additional manpower it will just do wonders for us.”
Davies argues that rural crime seems to be swept under the rug, because it’s often against property, not people. He says he continues to get reports of farmyards getting cased by people in vehicles, but numbers are down drastically over the past three years.