Businesses in the Burnt Lake and Queens Industrial Park area want to take crime fighting to the next level with more private security patrols and business cameras, and by encouraging more people to report suspicious activity.
Business owners met with Blackfalds and Red Deer RCMP, as well as Red Deer City and County council members, at a community meeting on Thursday to look at ways to reduce crime.
Some of the owners spoke about break-ins and thefts in the last few days or weeks.
Suzy Dietrich, with Nor-Ag Ltd., said since the first meeting was held last summer there has been less crime but it is still a problem. Taking the next step and organizing a community association will help.
“The community is tired and we need to start doing something together. Maybe together we can actually make some change,” said Dietrich who organized the meeting.
She said more private security officers could patrol the area if more people contributed to cost of the service. Coordinating security cameras will help cover more locations, and reporting suspicious behaviour or vehicles to RCMP will give police the information they need to track crime.
Blackfalds RCMP Staff Sgt. Ken Morrison said officers in his detachment cover a large area and putting another officer on the road won’t do as much as community engagement.
“Police aren’t the answer. Yes we will be out there. We’ll be doing our job. We’ll continue to do our job but we need the community watching, being our eyes and our ears,” Morrison said.
“Let’s get back to watching out for our neighbours. Let’s get back to taking ownership of our community and let these criminals know they’re not welcome and that we will be looking out.”
But he strongly discouraged anyone from chasing after thieves.
“They’re getting more violent. I had several police cars damaged last year as a result of stolen vehicles.”
Last month, council agreed to spend at least $115,000 for a general investigation section (GIS) officer, who will posted out of the 15-strong Blackfalds RCMP detachment. The money would come out of a protective services levy that county ratepayers already pay.
Morrison said that plain clothes officer will focus on habitual offenders constantly targeting our rural residents and industrial areas.
Mayor Jim Wood said the county has also met numerous times with the Alberta Justice Minister, as well as RCMP K-Division, to press their concerns.
“We’re doing what we can because we’re getting asked to do it by our residents,” Wood said.