About 90 people concerned about rural crime turned out to a Gull Lake meeting on Monday night.
Lacombe County Coun. Ken Wigmore said of those who turned out, about 20 signed up for further information and, perhaps, to add their numbers to a Rural Crime Watch program.
RCMP and county patrol officers, and representatives for Rural Crime Watch and Citizens on Patrol gave the crowd their perspective on how best to tackle what has been perceived as an alarming increase in rural crime.
Besides the number of break-ins and thefts, many residents have grown concerned about the level of organization behind the crimes, which are not, in many cases, random acts.
Wigmore said the effort to get more people involved is just beginning.
“We’ll take it to the next step with the 20 people who signed up and see what they say from there.
“It was a first step to try to get it going. With Rural Crime Watch we’ll see what the rural residents want to do and where they want to go.
“Without buy-in from the local people, it’s going to pretty difficult to do very much.”
“One of the more useful approaches might be arranging information sessions letting residents know what to look out for, what to take notes on, and who to call when they see something suspicious.”
A Rural Crime Watch program is already in place in many rural areas but rural residents are looking for ways to boost its effectiveness, such as building up its social media networks.
Residents of the Summer Village of Gull Lake are considering restarting a local Citizens on Patrol.
Rural politicians plan to take their concerns to the RCMP’s K-Division. A meeting has been arranged with a senior Mountie during the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties spring conference next week in Edmonton.
Other rural crime meetings are planned. Crossroads Rural Crime Watch is holding its annual meeting on March 18 at 8 p.m. at the Crossroads Ag Park at Pine Lake. The RCMP and Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen will be speaking.
Red Deer/Lacombe Rural Crime Watch (aka Maskepetoon Community Crime Watch Association) is holding its annual general meeting on March 21 beginning at 10 a.m. at the Burbank Hall, about four km southeast of Blackfalds off Hwy 597.