EDMONTON - The provincial government has announced additional funding to help combat rural crime.
During a news conference Friday morning, Justice Minister and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley announced the province will be investing $10 million dollars to hire more RCMP officers and Crown prosecutors in rural communities.
“All Albertans deserve to be safe in their homes and their communities,” Ganley said in a statement. “With help from our valued partners in the RCMP, we have developed a detailed plan to protect rural Albertans and their property.
“While there’s no single, easy solution to fix rural crime, our strategy puts several important tools in the crime-fighting toolbox. More civilian staff means more frontline officers on the street, while more Crown prosecutors will mean more timely access to justice.”
The plan includes $8 million to hire 39 new RCMP officers and 40 civilian staff, and $2 million to hire up to 10 Crown prosecutors who will focus solely on rural crime.
The announcement also includes support for crime reduction units, which will see specially trained officers will focus on arresting prolific offenders, and is based on a successful pilot project in Central Alberta. Enhanced technology, improved communication and coordination between agencies and specialized police intelligence to target organized crime were also mentioned during the announcement.
“The support announced today by Minister Ganley represents a significant contribution to the safety of Albertans,” said Todd Shean, Deputy Commissioner with the Alberta RCMP. “This funding will enable us to greatly expand our crime-reduction efforts across Alberta and strengthen our criminal intelligence program. If you are committing crime in Alberta, we will identify you and we will stop you.”
Key elements of the $10-million seven-point plan:
-- Crime reduction units: Specially trained officers will focus on arresting prolific offenders. This initiative will expand on a successful pilot project in Central Alberta.
-- Specialized police intelligence: Six additional intelligence-focused RCMP officers plus four crime analyst positions will allow the RCMP to identify prolific offenders and target organized crime.
-- Policing support centre: RCMP officers need to be on the streets protecting our communities, not behind a desk filling out paperwork. Twenty-three civilians will input investigative updates dictated over the phone by officers.
-- More Crown prosecutors: $2 million will allow the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service to hire up to 10 Crown prosecutors who will focus solely on rural crime.
-- Better coordination: Sharing information with Alberta sheriffs, Fish and Wildlife Enforcement, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and conservation officers will effectively make these officials additional “eyes and ears” for police.
-- Enhanced technology: The RCMP will work with Alberta Justice and Solicitor General and other partners to explore new ways of using technology to target rural crime, including bait programs.
-- Public education and engagement: The RCMP will engage and educate Albertans about crime prevention.
The announcement comes as rural crime in the province is at a five-year high.
The rural crime strategy also involves using technology like G-P-S trackers on farm equipment and bait vehicles.
R-C-M-P say they are working to hone in on a small number of people behind most rural crime calls.
The provincial announcement coincided with a rally in support of an Okotoks man charged in the shooting of an alleged intruder.
Edouard Maurice faces charges of aggravated assault, pointing a firearm and careless use of a firearm.
R-C-M-P were called to the property last month about a homeowner confronting two people rummaging through his vehicles.
Shots were fired and one of the suspects was later found with an arm injury.
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