By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Coalhurst will be continuing speaking with neighbouring municipalities on implementing the CAPTURE Program.
During their regular May 2 meeting, Coalhurst town council received an update into their inquiry about the CAPTURE Program.
The CAPTURE, or Community Assisted Policing Through Use of Recorded Evidence, program is an initiative that establishes a directory of cameras, such as doorbell and external cameras, in a community. The rationale behind it is that if there is an incident in the community, the RCMP could then look up in the database who has a camera in the area that may have captured the incident, and can contact the individual/business to ask if they would be willing to volunteer to share their footage.
It is a voluntary program that people can sign up for, and everyone has the option of whether to provide the recorded information. The database would only have the camera owner’s contact information and not the information on the camera itself. The RCMP would also need permission from the camera’s owner to get the footage and would not have access to any live feeds. The program has been established in other Alberta communities and proven successful.
The idea of having the program in Coalhurst was brought up during their regular Feb. 7 meeting, when council passed a motion to instruct the CAO to investigate establishing a CAPTURE program in Coalhurst, with consideration for involving neighbouring municipalities in the project.
“One of the things I really like about this program is when we had the open house with RCMP, it sounded like a lot of the residents had buy-in for it. When I speak to the public about this, they see it as a good idea,” said Coun. Scott Akkermans. “I understand there is a cost associated with this, so we can split this cost between other municipalities in the region… If that’s not possible, I still think this is something we should look towards doing.”
Akkermans noted that residents often report about crime on social media, and he felt that this program could help alleviate those concerns.
“Even if it’s a small thing that helps once or twice, I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
The previous CAO for the town, Jeff Coffman, had reached out to the Coaldale RCMP expressing an interest in participating in the CAPTURE Program, and they contacted other departments and gathered information regarding the setup and operation of a program for this area.
Establishing a detachment-wide program will incur a one-time cost of about $5,000, with an annual maintenance fee of about $600 for domain and server requirements. Given their previous motion and how participation would be open to anyone in the detachment area, council could invite the municipalities of Coaldale, Lethbridge County, Barons, Nobleford and Picture Butte to participate jointly in it. If each municipality participated, it would cost about $910 per municipality for the development and implementation of the CAPTURE Program, with domain and server costs being about $100 per municipality a year.
Other options council could consider should they want to implement the program are undertaking the effort on behalf of the detachment area or creating a Coalhurst-specific CAPTURE website.
Akkermans said he had spoken to councillors in other municipalities within the local RCMP detachment’s coverage area, and they had expressed interest. He proposed that they instruct the CAO to reach out to other municipalities to participate in and maintain the creation of a program in their area.
Coun. Deborah Florence, noting there is a lot to consider from the report, said she wasn’t ready to support a motion to implement it at this time.
“I think we need to do a little bit of digging and talking to the other communities beyond just a basic meet-and-greet, and really get a feel for it,” said Florence. “I think it’s interesting to have the costs shared, but its also, you know, sharing the program as well. So, I think it would be worth exploring whether its something that we do on our own or whether we steward the process for the entire detachment.”
Coun. Heather Caldwell said she thought this would be a great program but would like to continue the conversation with their local RCMP. She questioned why this isn’t a service they provide to municipalities and would like to explore this further. Mayor Lyndsay Montina said she would like to see more discussion and research on it.
Akkermans withdrew his original motion, making a new one to send it to the Inter-municipal Committee.
Council passed a motion to receive the update and motions for the CAPTURE Program report for information, and further be it resolved that the matter be forwarded to the Inter-municipal Committee.
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