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WHEREAS the AAMDC is concerned with the effective police presence on rural roads in the Province of Alberta; AND WHEREAS according to Saving Lives on Alberta’s Roads: Report and Recommendations for a Traffic Collision Fatality and Injury Reduction Strategy, one key tool in effective promotion of traffic safety and community safety is an effective police presence; AND WHEREAS organized crime, methamphetamine and child exploitation networks are expanding their operations into lesser patrolled, remote areas, such as rural Alberta; AND WHEREAS Alberta currently sits last in the country in terms of police officers per capita;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties work with the Office of the Solicitor General, the Federal Minister of Justice and RCMP ‘K’ Division to develop a comprehensive rural crime prevention strategy; AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to continue its work in implementing the Safe and Sustainable Communities Program by increasing the number of available front line officers for active patrol and investigative duties in rural Alberta.
Alberta has the lowest per capita police volume in Canada at 159 RCMP officers per 100,000 individuals. In addition, Alberta has the lowest spending per capita on policing at $33.00 per person. The Province of Alberta has a strong budget surplus, largely driven by a thriving natural resource industry. This vibrant economy is leading to population increases, and with that the need to increase policing resources to account for this growth. The AAMDC applauds the 121 new police officers who are being introduced as of September 15th (K division), but it is clear that the 120 rural officers which were outlined in the 2005 provincial budget were not allocated as expected. Most of the new positions have gone to fill positions which were left vacant due to existing staffing shortages. While this is a required move, rural communities are still expressing the need to increase the number frontline officers. The rural crime prevention strategy outlined in this resolution is influenced partly by the Ontario Provincial Police’s (OPP) Rural and Agriculture Crime Team. This initiative deals with specific rural crime issues, such as drug use, theft of crops or livestock, and to protect rural residents from criminal activity. The Government of Alberta is urged to consider the OPP initiative while dedicating resources and front line personnel to crime problems in rural areas. Ultimately, the spirit of this resolution is driven by the need to ensure that rural residents are able to benefit from a policing presence sufficient to address their unique crime issues, with staffing levels that reflect similar per capita ratios as in urban centres.
The 2007 Provincial Throne Speech committed to providing funding to add more front-line police officers. As well, it committed to allocating new funding to implement a crime reduction strategy. The 2008 Federal Budget allocated $400 million for a Police Officers Recruitment Fund to encourage provinces and territories to recruit 2,500 new front-line police officers. Also, $30 million per year was allocated to the National Crime Prevention Strategy. The AAMDC will continue to work with both the provincial and federal governments in the development and implementation of their efforts.