Over the past year, I have heard concerns from many rural Albertans about increases in crime in their communities.
Some areas in Alberta are experiencing the highest property crime rates they’ve seen in the last five years.
These trends are unacceptable. All Albertans deserve to feel safe in their homes, no matter where they live, and that is why our government is taking action.
In early March, we announced a $10-million, seven-point action plan to combat rural crime.
This strategy was developed alongside our partners at the RCMP, who work day in and day out to keep us safe. The plan puts more crime-fighting tools in the hands of law-enforcement agents and more boots on the ground.
Our plan provides funding for 39 additional RCMP officers across Alberta, including specially trained members focused solely on bringing prolific offenders to justice.
We’re also adding 40 new civilian staff, which will free up officers to spend more time in communities combatting crime instead of behind a desk doing paperwork.
The strategy includes funds to hire up to 10 more Crown prosecutors in rural areas.
Rollout of the plan, which also includes bait technology, better coordination between peace officers and the RCMP, and an education component, is already underway.
RCMP have told us the additional funding allows the force to greatly expand their crime-reduction efforts across Alberta and strengthen their criminal intelligence program.
The $10-million action plan comes at a time when Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs and Alberta’s opposition leader Hon. Jason Kenney want to further study the issue of rural crime. Kenney even said in Olds that he wants to study this issue until spring 2019.
We don’t need more studies. We need action.
I was disappointed to watch as UCP MLAs recently voted against the very funding that pays RCMP salaries in rural Alberta.
On March 15, UCP MLAs opposed $37 million in funding during a voice vote. This funding includes salaries and additional supports for RCMP officers in rural Alberta.
Now is not the time to turn our backs on our frontline officers. This funding will go to support RCMP to help recruit and retain qualified officers.
Kenney and the UCP talk about this issue but when it comes time to vote, they don’t have the backs of our RCMP officers.
The realities of policing in rural Alberta are particularly challenging. Our geographic spread means criminals can target isolated properties without detection, while police have large areas to cover.
We obviously can’t change Alberta’s geography, but we can listen to citizen concerns and take concrete action.
While there isn’t a single, easy solution to fix rural crime, our comprehensive strategy provides several important tools that will make a significant, immediate difference in the lives of rural Albertans.
We’re taking action at a time when it’s needed.
I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to write or call me. I also want to thank the many municipal leaders that came to me with thoughtful solutions on how to address this important issue.
I especially want to thank the RCMP officers who are already doing a vital job serving rural Alberta every day. We are proud to partner with them and expand their capacity to assist and protect Albertans throughout the province.
Together, we will work to ensure that every Albertan can feel safe in their home and community.
Minister of Justice and Solicitor General for Alberta