A commitment has been made to add 10 RCMP officers in the city of Wetaskiwin and surrounding areas to address high crime rates.
The province said the RCMP will establish a six-member regional crime reduction unit to target high-risk and repeat offenders as well as an additional four officers in Wetaskiwin.
The Alberta government said the increase to the police force will cost the province about $5.1 million.
“Sustained increases in crime in Wetaskiwin over the past five years demand action. This plan will put more officers where they’re needed, and will support intelligence-led policing that focuses investigative efforts on repeat offenders who are often responsible for a disproportionately large share of crime,” Justice and Solicitor General Minister Kaycee Madu said.
Indigenous Relations minister and Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin MLA Rick Wilson said the additional officers will allow the RCMP to address property and violent crime in the area.
“Having more members on our roads helps the RCMP respond to issues and contributes to our overall reduction strategies,” Wilson said. “The creation of a crime reduction team will augment an already proven, effective tool in addressing repeat offenders, with the remaining members being flexible in their utilization in general policing duties.”
RCMP deputy commissioner Curtis Zablocki said Wetaskiwin RCMP officers respond to twice the provincial average of calls involving crime and Wetaskiwin’s crime severity index is two and a half times higher than the provincial average.
“I am grateful for the work that Wetaskiwin city council and city administration have done in helping secure this much-needed grant,” Zablocki said.
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The crime severity index is a method of measuring crime by placing a higher weight on more serious and violent offences.
The province said funding for the six-member regional crime reduction unit will be covered under the provincial police service agreement, which splits the cost between the federal and provincial governments, with the province covering 70 per cent of the cost.
“Crime reduction units created by the RCMP in other areas of Alberta since 2018 have been effective in identifying and catching prolific offenders who are often mobile and commit crimes in multiple communities,” Wetaskiwin Mayor Tyler Gandam said.
“A crime reduction unit based in Wetaskiwin will operate in the city and surrounding rural areas and be capable of sharing intelligence and coordinating investigations with RCMP teams in neighbouring jurisdictions.”
Funding for the four additional officers will be covered through a grant agreement between the province and City of Wetaskiwin, with the Alberta government contributing $2 million to help fund the new positions for three years. After three years, the city will assume responsibility for funding the additional positions.
The RCMP is responsible for staffing the new positions and is expected to do so as soon as possible.
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