Creating solutions for rural crime at Agri-Trade

By Sheldon Spackman
November 6, 2018 - 11:46am

Attendees of this week's Agri-Trade Equipment Expo at Westerner Park are encouraged to take part in a Rural Crime symposium on Friday.

With the goal of ‘Creating Solutions Together,’ the symposium is being held in conjunction with Agri-Trade for the first time ever, as concerns over rural crime continue to grow across the country.

However, event spokesperson and Red Deer County councilor Jean Bota says the symposium is not for police bashing or political posturing.

“We have to start coming together as communities to find solutions because there are a lot of solutions out there,” says Bota. “What better place than Agri-Trade to connect people from western Canada because you have people coming from all over.”

Over the past three years, Bota says many throughout rural central Alberta have grown frustrated with what seems to be a ‘revolving-door’ justice system.

“The second thing was police response times and the distances they had to travel,” adds Bota. “The third thing was the lack of connection between community and a lot of the crime prevention groups. To be honest with you, at the end of the day, we have a lot of power within community and I think we need to really start looking at how we can connect with each other and start making a difference.”

Bota admits many rural people are frustrated and angry with the rise in crime in their communities.

“There’s probably things we can do differently,” says Bota. “I’ve been told that we have the laws in place but if we have the laws in place, maybe we should be doing something different because doing the same thing over and over is obviously not handling the problem.”

Crime prevention is another area of much-needed focus moving forward according to Bota.

“We know its organized crime, we know it’s addictions, we know it’s mental illness, we know there’s a lot of dysfunction. “Intervention and prevention are very important words that I think sometimes we really miss along the way because that is front-end loading. It’s one thing for us to put lots of money into law enforcement and all the programs but I also think we need to be looking at the prevention and intervention on a lot of these things as well.”

The key, says Bota, is talking about the rural crime issue in a solution-based manner.

“I hope this is something we do every year because it’s making us all aware. I hope people take away some of the good stories and what is going on with the RCMP and their Crime Reduction Units. Also an awareness of what the government is doing and taking away a wider lense on what is really going on in their community, maybe becoming part of it and becoming engaged.”

The agenda for Friday’s Rural Crime symposium includes a session from Bota and Lacombe County councilor Barb Shepherd on what makes a community safe.

That will be followed by a case study of prolific rural offending from Mike Saunders, Investigations and Risk Management Specialist with Calgary-based IRISS Corp.

Roxanne Baalim, Executive Director, Alberta Police Based Victim Services Association in Pincher Creek, Alberta will talk about rural crime and your role, while Peter Tewfik, Officer in Charge of Crime Reduction Strategy for the RCMP in Alberta will talk about rural crime reduction and crime prevention through environmental design.

Other presentations include RCMP Crime Reduction Coordinator Jennifer Kee talking about initiatives and strategies to assist property owners in safeguarding against property crimes, followed by a presentation on intervention and prevention approaches from Alberta Justice and Solicitor General.

Attendees will also learn more about what types of crimes are occurring and how to safely prevent and manage any potentially dangerous situation through a presentation from Debra deWaal, President, Safe & Sound Safety Training & Consulting Ltd in Calgary, Alberta.

MPs Earl Dreeshen from Red Deer-Mountain View, Blaine Calkins from Red Deer-Lacombe and Jim Eglinski from Yellowhead will also be available to chat with those in attendance.

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