The Town of Sylvan Lake is bolstering its police force.
Council approved an RCMP request for two additional officers on Monday. A school resource officer and a constable that will focus on identifying crime trends and undertaking lengthier investigations were requested by detachment commander Staff Sgt. Gary Rhodes in a presentation to council.
Sylvan Lake RCMP Sgt. Michelle Boutin said on Tuesday that both officers will focus on specific areas and will not form part of the regular detachment rotation.
“Basically, what we wanted was an additional resource that wouldn’t take away from our current manpower,” said Boutin. Sylvan Lake detachment has 16 constables, three corporals, a sergeant and staff sergeant.
The crime reduction unit officer will focus on crime trends, identifying links and laying the groundwork, such as preparing search warrants to back up larger scale investigations.
It is a position that can be quickly assigned to target a spike in specific crimes, such as drug dealing, vandalism or young offender issues.
Similar crime reduction units have been successful in detachments in Airdrie and Hobbema among others.
The school resource officer will operate at four Sylvan schools and a school in Benalto and will oversee various programs, such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and safe grad.
Principals of H.J. Cody High School and Fox Run Middle School and a representative from Chinook’s Edge School Division spoke in favour of the position at council.
Part of the job will also be acting as a community resource officer and a liaison with local groups focused on family violence and bullying or working with seniors on issues such as identity theft.
Boutin said it typically takes about a year to fill a new position and it is hoped the new officers are in town next spring.
The estimated cost of each position is $105,000.
The town, Chinook’s Edge and Red Deer County will share the cost of the school resource officer. The town will pick up the bill alone for the crime reduction unit staffer, leaving the town’s total share at $157,500.