By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Staff Sergeant Mike Neuman is asking for a letter of endorsement from Lethbridge County in regards to permanently hubbing the Picture Butte and Coaldale detachments. From an operations standpoint, Neuman says the two municipalities have been operating on this policing model since 2019, but the process hasn’t been officially finalized.
Neuman explained, “it’s still running under a pilot program,” which has been underway for the last two years, “we have never taken the official step. There is still separate accounting, so we have to officially do it and move forward.” Some members of council were under the assumption that this process was complete, since the two detachments operate together answering calls for service. However, Neuman continued, “right now we are amalgamated, and we are working together to answer calls for service but to make it official there is a lot of administrative steps. We have to notify the province, all of those official things haven’t been done.”
Neuman cited the success of Wetaskiwin and Camrose as a good case study of the police model in question and added, “I was part of Wetaskiwin-Camrose. We amalgamated Camrose and it’s working really well (in terms of) coverage, service delivery, (the) duplication of services has been reduced, so I think it can happen here and I think it would be very positive for all the communities”.
Neuman said that the official amalgamation of the two detachments would eliminate duplicate services, while still providing the same scope of service in the affected areas and combining Picture Butte and Coaldale’s resources in this way would, “give us the ability to do zone policing were we have members on the west and east side of the river and we still provide all the same services in picture butte: front counter service. There would still be an office we just wont have jail cells there and an exhibit room, as to not duplicate services.”
He said, “I’m going to do up a business case and speak with all community partners and make sure they are aware,” before addressing council directly asking, “and if you’re on board. i would like to have a letter of endorsement.” A motion was carried to direct staff to draft a letter of endorsement for the amalgamation as requested by Sgt. Mike Neuman.
Neuman also spoke to Lethbridge County’s Council with respect to a report for the quarter, provided to all of the communities which outlines, “an idea of whats happening in (the) rural area throughout the county.” but encouraged the public to continue to report concerns as they arise. He said, “my big message, (is) to make sure people report things that are happening and not just ignore it (and assume) the police are too busy,” and pointed out that, “numbers are only numbers, and they’re only as good as the people reporting crimes and that type of thing, (…) if we don’t know what is happening it is very tough to respond and if we notice a trend, we can put some resources towards that (issue) and deal with it.”