Violent crime has become a serious problem for rural communities and Red Deer-Lacombe Conservative MP Blaine Calkins wants citizens’ help to address the issue.
MP Calkins, along with his colleagues MP Earl Dreeshen and MP Jim Eglinski, recently launched a Rural Crime Taskforce to work with communities and law enforcement.
“In some parts of my riding crime is up 100 to 200 per cent,” said MP Calkins in a message to his constituents. “I’m talking property crime and violent crime. All crime is bad but the amount of rural crime happening lately is unprecedented.”
MP Calkins said over the last few months he’s received a lot of emails, phone calls and visits from constituents about the rise in crime.
Three public meetings, hosted by Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins, are set for January at Alix, Lacombe County and Bluffton.
A closed door meeting for community leaders is planned for Jan. 9 in Blackfalds and Clive Mayor Luci Henry will attend.
“I am hopeful that we will be able to come up with constructive solutions to address the crimes that are plaguing our communities,” said Mayor Henry.
“I think we will see that there will be an increased need for mental health and social services funding among increased RCMP and police services.”
Village of Clive Coun. Susan Russell hopes to use information from the meetings to form a Citizens on Patrol for Clive.
“We are at a stand still right now with volunteers and finding the time to meet but there is a huge community interest,” said Coun. Russell.
“Our residents have the right to feel safe and I believe this crime meeting will bring facts about the crime rate and will equip everyone with useful information on how to ensure we are safe and how to keep criminals from targeting us.”
Blackfalds RCMP Detachment, which also polices Clive, is involved in the meetings.
“We have been focusing on the rural crime issues and have been working very effectively with Red Deer and surrounding detachments on various projects,” said Blackfalds RCMP Detachment Commander S/Sgt. Ken Morrison.
“As a detachment, we have been actively engaged with our community leaders and partner agencies in spreading the word throughout the rural areas.”
S/Sgt Morrison said that Blackfalds RCMP detachment will have two new positions in 2018, which will be paid for by Red Deer County and Lacombe County. They will be plainclothes units focused on prolific crime in rural areas and will work with surrounding detachments.
Citizens can help by becoming actively involved in programs such as Citizens on Patrol (COP), Rural Crime Watch and reporting all suspicious activity, said S/Sgt. Morrison.
“Over the past year there have been efforts in communities to get COP operating, however, there have been few volunteers,” he said. “We need to work together as a community to combat crime. The police can not do it on their own.
“Rural Crime Watch will be starting up patrols in the New Year. We are very excited about this and how it will work to be the eyes and ears out in the rural areas.”