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Call centre to keep officers away from their desks

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More RCMP officers in Grande Prairie should be out on the streets instead of in the detachment filing paperwork. That’s hoped to be the result of a pilot project the Alberta government began earlier this year.

Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley says the Police Reporting and Occurrence System Data Centre and Call Back Unit were started as a way to reduce crime, especially in rural areas.

“Some of the frustration, certainly, that I’ve heard from folks in rural communities and from our rural MLAs as well has been that the RCMP is not as visible as they would like them to be, so this will go a long way to that and that can have a deterrent effect.”

The first part is the new PROS Data Centre launched in Morinville in June, which lets mounties file information on calls by phone. The data is then handled by civilian staff, saving the officer a trip into the detachment to manually update the files.

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Adding to that is the Call Back Unit, which has connected non-emergency calls with officers that aren’t on the frontline since February. Those calls are typically minor thefts, attempted frauds, and past traffic offences.

Acting Commanding Officer of the Alberta RCMP John Ferguson says the new system takes officers an average of four to five minutes to input data, when it may have taken 30 to 45 previously. Ferguson served in Grande Prairie from 2015 to early 2018 and says the province’s crime reduction strategy is the same as what he and Superintendent Don McKenna put in place in the city.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done in Grande Prairie but things have changed significantly,” he explains. “It’s all about allowing our members more time to be on the road and have that presence in the community and to be able to do the job that they’re hired to do.”

While both parts of the initiative have been underway for less than a year, both the province and Alberta RCMP say it’s having a positive effect. Call Management Strategy Project lead Barry Larocque says at the Morinville detachment, roughly 375 hours have been saved in the past four months. That doesn’t include travel time.

“That is a very significant savings of time that the members can be out doing other things like crime reduction initiatives and proactive patrols. Any time saved from being in front of a computer and the members being out and about is a good investment.”

The Data Centre is being expanded to the RCMP’s Western Alberta District, including the Peace country. The province adds the Call Back Unit has so far saved 9,390 hours across the province, which represents the annual workload of nine general duty constables.

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