Property crime has been a rising issue across rural and urban areas of the province over the past few years, and the Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment continues to push for crime reduction strategies to target prolific offenders.
Insp. Keith Durance met with County of Wetaskiwin councillors during their Dec. 19 general meeting to give updates on both where the detachment is at with crime reduction, as well as a larger focus on crime reduction coming from the province.
Durance says targeting prolific offenders is not a strategy the city based detachment employs only in the City of Wetaskiwin, as the RCMP members will target wherever the offenders are located within the city/county region.
With rising property crime has come a significant increase in motor vehicle thefts. Since 2013 motor vehicle thefts have risen 300 per cent, says Durance.
In the rural area 42 per cent of those thefts had the keys left in the vehicle or the vehicle was left running, unattended.
“We need to lock it, or lose it,” said Durance.
Sgt. Corey Kyle was also in attendance to speak to the council about the benefits enhance policing brings the county, and how it also can tie into crime reduction efforts targeting prolific offenders.
The County of Wetaskiwin recently renewed its enhanced policing contract for a maximum of 550 hours in 2018.
Kyle says shifts covered by the enhanced policing contract allows law enforcement to focus on areas such as special community events or OHV policing that would be difficult to fit into regular shifts.
Enhanced policing options for the Summer Villages around Pigeon Lake were also presented to council.
The first option is a three-year agreement at a cost of $154,000. This individual would be brought in to only work in the county areas. An enforcement vehicle would be included in the cost and the member would have access to all RCMP equipment.
Option two works on a shift model covered on overtime at $84 per hour. However, the shifts are volunteer.
“There are some downsides. There’s not always someone available,” said Kyle.
“There’s some pluses and minuses to both options,” said Durance.
During the City of Wetaskiwin’s 2018 interim budget deliberations Durance spoke with the councillors about the benefits hiring a crime analyst would bring the community.
He also spoke to county councillors about the same benefits. “In crime reduction, an analyst is where we need to go ultimately.”
Durance gave city councillors an approximate cost of $65,000 to hire an analyst.
“We can get an analyst by way of (an) enhanced agreement, he explained. The County of Wetaskiwin and City of Wetaskiwin could also enter into a cost share agreement to bring an analyst to the area, Durance added.