The RCMP will establish a six-member regional crime reduction unit targeting high-risk and repeat offenders and add four officers to the City of Wetaskiwin’s municipal policing contingent at an estimated cost of $5.1 million to the provincial government.
“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.”
“Putting boots on the ground is a key piece of our multi-faceted approach to reducing and preventing rural crime. Adding these 10 positions and establishing the crime reduction unit will have a very positive impact. This will go a long way towards ensuring the City of Wetaskiwin and our rural residents feel safe, secure and supported in their communities.”
“In response to the needs of the City of Wetaskiwin and surrounding rural communities, these additional positions will allow the Alberta RCMP to address the high crime severity index, high property crime and high violent crime in this area of the province. Having more members on our roads helps the RCMP respond to issues and contributes to our overall reduction strategies. 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.”
“Through tireless advocacy, as well as a good working relationship with the province and Minister Madu, the City of Wetaskiwin will be receiving 10 additional RCMP members for the next three years. Currently, Wetaskiwin RCMP officers respond to twice the provincial average of Criminal Code calls for service, 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.”
Between 2015 and 2019, Statistics Canada recorded a 52 per cent increase in the City of Wetaskiwin’s crime severity index – a method of measuring crime that places a higher weight on more serious and violent offences. During the same time, the property crime rate increased 50 per cent.
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. 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.
The new unit will be funded under the provincial police service agreement, which splits the costs of policing in small and rural communities between the provincial government and the federal government. The provincial government’s 70 per cent contribution will be an estimated $1 million a year, with the federal government contributing the remaining 30 per cent from Public Safety Canada.
In addition, a grant agreement between the provincial government and the City of Wetaskiwin will add four new members to the RCMP’s existing municipal contingent of 27 officers. The provincial government will contribute just over $2 million to help fund the new positions for three years.
This is a time-limited grant designed to help the municipality respond to an urgent need for more police. After three years, the City of Wetaskiwin will assume funding responsibility for these added positions under the terms of its municipal policing contract with Public Safety Canada.
The RCMP is responsible for staffing the new positions and will be working to fill them as soon as possible.