An infusion of $8 million to address rural crime would be better spent elsewhere, according to a local councillor.
The Government of Alberta announced funding last week to add 39 new officers and 40 civilian employees in areas which the province says will ultimately lead to more Mounties on the road.
Ken Wigmore, who sits on Lacombe County council and is President of the Red Deer and Lacombe County Rural Crime Watch, says it’s pleasing to see the government acknowledge there’s a problem, but he’s uncertain that these particular measures will do much to help.
“It’s not a lot of money when you’re short probably two or three hundred policemen in the province,” he says. “I would certainly like to see them come up with a plan of how we can address the repeat offenders. Locking them up I believe is just a school for them. They learn what to do in there.”
Wigmore suggests the government should consider funding ankle bracelets.
In the meantime, Wigmore says residents can look out for each other in order to help curb rural crime.
“We must work together on this at all levels of public awareness,” Wigmore says. “When groups are having meetings and trying to educate the public, I encourage them to attend and learn what you can to look after yourselves.”
The province also announced it is pumping $2 million into the hiring of 10 new Crown prosecutors who will focus solely on rural crime.
"We’re pleased to hear that some new regional prosecutors will be added," says James Pickard with the Alberta Crown Attorneys' Association. "However, we’ll have to see how this plays out in terms of lessening the current case loads of regional prosecutors. These new RCMP officers mean more investigations and more charges being laid so at this point we’re not sure how much these new prosecution positions will help to alleviate the increased case load of existing prosecutors."
Pickard adds, "Many regional prosecution offices have had significant difficulties filling vacancies due to high caseloads and a continuing salary freeze. This may also delay the ability to fill these 10 new positions."
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