The Changing of Rural Policing
Best wishes for the New Year from the HCRCWA! I hope to have some crime statistics for full year 2020 in the next issue for you. In the meantime, there are a couple of fairly significant policing initiatives that you should be aware of.
The Foothills County Pilot Project, which was part of experiments for a new Alberta Provincial Policing model, has been made permanent. What this means is that there is now greater and more coordinated policing coverage within the rural areas of Foothills County. There are 3 main RCMP jurisdictions within the county of Foothills: Turner Valley, Okotoks, and High River. Both the Okotoks and High River detachments had a combination of “in-town” and rural policing duties.
Under this new Foothills County Rural Policing Plan, all of the rural policing responsibilities for Foothills County are under one jurisdiction: The Turner Valley detachment with Staff Sgt. Laura Akitt at the head. This amalgamation of resources enables the RCMP to provide 24-hour manned policing services, a more streamlined approach, and the ability to move resources around the county based on crime trends and resource requirements. “In-town” policing will still be provided by the respective Okotoks and High River detachments.
On the ground coverage will be provided by 17 Constables, 3 Corporals, 1 Sergeant and 1 Staff Sergeant who can call in assistance from outside resources if required: the RCMP Major Crimes Unit for Southern Alberta, HAWCS helicopters out of Calgary, Calgary City Police Canine Unit, and the RCMP Forensic ID Section out of Airdrie.
Another significant result of this new Policing Plan is a more collaborative approach to enforcement services between the front line RCMP members and the Foothills Patrol Community Peace Officers. Over the past year Foothills County Peace Officers have returned to having direct radio contact with the RCMP members (a return to common sense.)
The second major initiative within Foothills County, CAPTURE, will be implemented in the new year. CAPTURE stands for “Community Assisted Policing Through the Use of Recorded Evidence”. CAPTURE is a voluntary camera registry that records the locations of security cameras that would be available to the RCMP to assist in police investigations.
Often, security cameras capture evidence that can be used to solve a crime. If an incident happens, the Turner Valley RCMP can view the list of camera locations and contact the registered camera owners. The RCMP could then come to the camera location to view the video evidence with the hope of shortening the time required for investigations. It could also provide key information in the solving of a crime.
It needs to be noted that this is a voluntary registration of your camera(s) and you can withdraw your registration at any time. Joining the registry does not mean you are obligated to give access to or share the footage – by registering you are only providing the location of your camera. This initiative will be implemented in all Foothills County rural areas as well as Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Longview, but not in Okotoks or High River at this time.
There are some other jurisdictions within Alberta that have, or are, implementing CAPTURE, including the City of Red Deer. Turner Valley RCMP will be advertising the program shortly in local newspapers, other media and with the High Country Rural Crime Watch Association so keep your eye out for this if you are interested in participating.
Staff Sgt. Laura Akitt is open to the possibility of including Trail Cam footage or pictures in this initiative. I personally utilize Trail Cams for wildlife viewing, and sometimes security purposes, and the picture/ video quality is extremely good during the day and quite clear at night. As an aside, if you are going to buy a Trail Cam, spend the money and buy a good one. I bought one or two cheap ones initially and they just didn’t perform well or last.
With the beginning of a new year, I thought I’d leave you with a couple of quotes:
“Where no one intrudes, many can live in harmony.”– Chief Dan George
“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn no other way.”– Mark Twain
HCRCWA Board Member