By Lisa Joy
Blackfalds RCMP, to combat an increase in crime in their coverage area, be proactive rather than reactive and to offset a provincial hiring freeze, asked Lacombe County to help fund a new constable and corporal position.
Blackfalds RCMP Sgt. Whitney Benoit, Operations NCO, told council in her report that this would help the detachment to specifically focus on a crime reduction strategy and address the underlying cause of crime. She said this approach would also have a direct impact on every aspect of the increase in crime statistics.
“There are clear theories and strategies that may be utilized to reduce crime, however, human resources are needed to implement them,” said Sgt. Benoit, adding that 80 per cent of the crimes are being committed by 20 per cent of the population.
Another option for the two positions created would be to have a constable and corporal position dedicated to General Investigation Section (GIS). One position would be supplied by Red Deer County, which they already approved, and the second position provided by Lacombe County.
“These positions would form a plain clothes unit, which would investigate the more complex/ involved investigations and focus on the crime reduction strategy,” said Sgt. Benoit. “The unit would be able to identify habitual offenders, conduct surveillance on their involvements, gather intelligence, complete projects on known hot spots and focus on the underlying cause of crime.”
A third option said Sgt. Benoit is to create one new constable position at the Blackfalds Detachment that would be specifically for GIS.
“This position would form a plain clothes unit, which would allow the police officer to investigate more complex/ involved investigations and focus on the crime reduction strategy. A one-person unit does have some logistical limitations, which could cause some challenges.”
The last option would be to create a constable position at the Blackfalds Detachment, which would be for general duties, said Sgt. Benoit.
“This may assist in slightly lowering the call volume per police officer, however, would not
address the core problems or reduce crime.”
Lacombe County Coun. Brenda Knight said she saw merit in the proposal but had some questions.
“I want to ensure the officer would be working in all areas of the county not just for one detachment. Criminals do not recognize boundaries and our detachments need to work together to present good strong cases before the courts.
“Also, I need assurance that the RCMP have enough officers to keep the detachments fully staffed if these new positions are created from within the existing membership.”
Sgt. Benoit said there has been a dramatic increase in crime in the past four years in the Blackfalds RCMP Detachment coverage area. They cover Joffre, Blackfalds, Burbank, Chigwell, Clive, College Heights, Joffre, Prentiss, Gull Lake, Gull Lake, Haynes, Lacombe (rural), Lynn Valley, McKenzie, Mynar- ski Park, Penhold (Canadian Forces Base), Poplar Ridge, Prentiss, Red Deer, Springbrook, Springvale Heights and Woodland Hills.
They have seen a 65 per cent increase in the number of files, 108 per cent increase in the number of criminal code les, a 78 per cent increase in the number of criminal code cases per member and a 108 per cent increase in the number of criminal code cases per 1,000 population. The number of members at the Blackfalds Detachment, however, has only increased by 15 per cent.
“These statistics make it extremely clear that the resources have not been proportional to the increase in work load,” said Sgt. Benoit.
Lacombe County Council received the presentation as information and referred the request to administration to prepare a recommendation.
By Lisa Joy