The RCMP have asked Lacombe County to fund a police officer to tackle rural crime and other complex investigations.
A similar pitch was made to Red Deer County council, which voted in March to provide up to $115,000 for a general investigation section officer, who will work out of Blackfalds RCMP detachment.
If Lacombe County follows suit, the RCMP hope to hire a constable and a corporal to form a new plainclothes unit.
Blackfalds RCMP Staff Sgt. Ken Morrison said he told council the unit would “tackle serious crimes, as well as the prolific property crimes that are occurring, and to work together with the detachments around us to tackle the increase in crime and put people behind bars.”
The unit would identify habitual offenders, conduct surveillance on their movements, gather intelligence, complete projects on known hot spots and focus on the underlying cause of crime, says the RCMP’s proposal.
Council referred the request to county administration, which will come back with a report and recommendations, likely at its May 25 meeting.
Lacombe County commissioner Terry Hager said helping to finance a police officer is not new. The county and Wolf Creek School Division share the cost of an RCMP school resource officer through the Blackfalds detachment.
The additional officer would cost the county about $154,000 per year.
Hager said staff will look at the long-term impact of supporting the new position. The county will also want assurances that the new officers will work with all five detachments within the county.
RCMP statistics show that Blackfalds RCMP has seen the number of Criminal Code files increase by 108 per cent over the last four years. The number of Criminal Code cases per member has climbed 78 per cent over the same period.
Despite the increasing workload, the detachment has only grown by two members in the last few years to its current complement of 15 officers. K-Division is not funding any new officers for this year.
Morrison said the paperwork has already been started to hire the first officer, to be funded by Red Deer County. It could take six months to a year before the new officer is posted to Central Alberta.