Red Deer County will pay for an extra RCMP officer to tackle escalating rural property crime.
Council agreed on Tuesday 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.
Blackfalds RCMP Staff Sgt. Ken Morrison told council he hopes to convince another Central Alberta municipality to make a similar commitment so a second plainclothes investigator can be added.
Morrison assured council that the new officer will not be used for general duty but will investigate rural property crimes, habitual offenders and crimes requiring lengthier investigations. The GIS officer would work with Central Alberta counterparts in Red Deer and other communities, such as Sylvan Lake, which has one GIS officer.
“I look at this as a very important first step to combat something that has been very, very high on the priorities of our residents,” said Mayor Jim Wood. It is similar to rural municipalities’ support of school resource officers.
Normally, new police officers are considered as part of the province’s policing contract with the RCMP. But new officers for Blackfalds are not in the 2017 plan
“Unfortunately, there are no anticipated positions for 2017 due to a cap on resources,” says an RCMP report on the enhanced policing proposal for council.
County director of community and protective services Ric Henderson said funding the position would make a statement to the Alberta Justice and Solicitor General about the need for police.
Wood agreed. “I do believe today by approving this we definitely make that statement.
“And we’re making that statement to our residents as well.”
Coun. Connie Huelsman likes the co-ordinated crime fighting approach proposed.
“The frustration we’re having is the robberies are taking place everywhere. They are catching the people but can’t link it all together.”
Coun. Jean Bota saw similar merit in the RCMP proposal.
“I envision this unit would work well together with them and share the intelligence that comes through the office.”
Morrison said it could take six months to a year before the new GIS officers are available.