File photo by ADVOCATE staff Sgt. Bruce Holliday, from the Bashaw RCMP, says depending on where officers are located when a call comes in, it could take almost an hour to reach a destination within the detachment’s jurisdiction.

SPECIAL REPORT, Part 2: Policing rural areas is tough

Far distances can cause problems for rural police

Times have changed for people who live in rural areas, says Sgt. Bruce Holliday of the Bashaw RCMP detachment.

“Our good, rural folks for decades, have left keys in vehicles, left their shops unlocked and relied on the good nature of people to not steal the items they’ve worked hard for.

“Unfortunately in 2019, criminals are aware of this and come out into the rural areas and prey on good rural, trusting folks,” he said.

The Bashaw detachment stretches as far north as New Norway, below Highway 11 to the south, west to Tees Road and east past Donalda.

Holliday said depending on where officers are located when a call comes in, it could take almost an hour to reach a destination within the detachment’s jurisdiction.

“There can be significant travel time, and then when you throw in weather and other factors that would impede our travel, response time would be affected,” he said.

If a rural resident is home when someone tries to break into their house, they should immediately call 911, said Holliday.

“That is a priority call for us,” he said. “Then they need to do anything they can to safeguard themselves in their residence. Lock doors, turn lights on.

“You may shout to an individual that the police have been called – anything to let that person know the police are on their way.”

Rural residents need to help officers by protecting themselves when possible, he added.

“People are very interested in working with rural crime watch groups, and the RCMP, and are changing their thoughts and perspectives on safeguarding the property.

“Part of the solution is securing your property, looking out for each other and reporting suspicious activity to the RCMP. If we don’t know about it, we can’t do anything.”

Holliday says the Bashaw detachment has seen an increase in reports of suspicious activities or suspicious vehicles.

“It’s extremely satisfying to see people work with us in efforts to address rural crime,” he said.

“We have a fantastic relationship with our rural crime watches and all of our rural crime folks that are interested in working with the RCMP by looking out for their neighbours and family.”

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