Posted on Jul 9, 2018

Rural Crime Strategy is working

For the past several years I’ve been hearing from people – from one end of my constituency to the other – that they’re concerned about what has been described as an epidemic of rural crime.

I know I have been concerned in my own life, living as I do out here in rural Alberta. I know many of my neighbours were feeling the same way – especially those living in more rural and isolated areas within Whitecourt-Ste. Anne.

Certainly the statistics our local RCMP detachments were reporting showed that there was a problem, and the problem was getting worse. Clearly something had to be done and I’m proud our government took decisive action to start tackling rural crime.

Earlier this year the Alberta Government partnered with Alberta’s RCMP on a Rural Crime Strategy. Our $10-million seven-point action plan was developed in conjunction with the RCMP and includes investments in more sworn officers, more civilian staff and more Crown prosecutors.

But despite this being an issue that affects all Albertans, one we should be able to come together to solve regardless of partisan affiliation. I was disappointed and frankly shocked when all of the UCP Opposition MLAs voted against funding for more resources to tackle rural crime.

This month we’ve seen further proof that they’re all talk and no action. Many of the recommendations in their report on tackling rural crime, which they released July 4, are to keep studying rather than tackling the issue. Rural Albertan deserve better than that, and they’re getting it with or without UCP support.

And with the kind of cuts Jason Kenney has proposed – suggesting we should cut per-capita spending by 20 per cent – it’s hard to imagine where police would find resources to continue with this important work.

We need to take action and tackle this problem, which is what we’re funding. Crime Reduction Units, where specially trained officers focus on arresting repeat offenders, are a key part of our plan. Nearly every Crime Reduction Unit in the province is fully staffed, with 31 of 32 officers already in place.

The RCMP themselves acknowledge the plan is working, with Alberta RCMP commanding officer Todd Shean praising the work of these units last March, saying, “the targeted, intelligence-led approach to policing works.”

This is a plan that puts more boots on the ground and targets prolific offenders in rural Alberta. And it’s already making a difference in rural communities. The RCMP have reported that property crime in rural areas was down by 10 per cent in May, just months after our government’s investment in the Rural Crime Strategy.

The bottom line is we developed this plan in conjunction with the subject-matter experts – police. And now police are reporting the positive results of our concrete actions. While the UCP is still playing politics with this important issue, we’re getting down to business. We’re standing up for rural Albertans and making their lives better.