Well ... not quite, but, the title is catchy! This is a fairly local story from an area just south and slightly east of where I live. Since oil prices tanked around here, crime has increased in a massive way ...
Resident questions police presence in County
Resident questions police presence in County
A resident is raising questions about whether or not the number of RCMP officers patrolling Rocky View County (RVC) is adequate.
Cindy Johnstone, a resident in Prairie Royal Estates southwest of Kathyrn, said she's noticed the number of crimes being committed in the area has been steadily on the rise.
"We've been here three years and a lot of our neighbours have been here 18 to 20 years and in the last two months the crime has been unbelievable," she said. "Every day or every other day somebody's house is getting broken into. It's not rummaging through a barn and taking a couple of things, it's full on kicking in the door and taking everything.
"People who live around here say they've never seen anything like it. I know it's not just here, that crime has increased everywhere."
Johnstone said she called Airdrie Rural RCMP and a member came out to talk to a gathering of approximately 50 residents of Prairie Royal the week of March 14.
"He told us there were only eight members who patrolled the Rocky View County district - south of Airdrie all the way to Strathmore and all the way over to Bearspaw. I'm assuming it's based on population but the crime has gotten out of control."
RVC subsidizes the costs associated with RCMP in the County - between 70 and 90 per cent, depending on the population size - according to Manager of Communication Services Grant Kaiser.
"The total Rocky View County enforcement budget is $2.974 million for 2016. The cost includes personnel, patrol vehicles and other expenses. We don't break that out to RCMP/Peace Officer salaries for competitive reasons," he said.
"A little over $825,000 of that comes from tickets, with the bulk (roughly $2.15 million) coming from the property tax base."
Kaiser said there are an additional 12 peace officers working in RVC.
"Rocky View County is policed by four of our detachments - Airdrie, Beiseker, Cochrane and Strathmore," said Inspector Gibson Glavin, officer in charge of the Alberta RCMP Strategic Communications. "There are a total of 46 regular RCMP members that police RVC, spread between the four detachments.
"Two of the positions are enhanced positions, paid for by RVC - one in Cochrane and one in Airdrie. All four detachments respond to complaints within RVC."
Airdrie RCMP Inspector Gordon Sage said there are 10 members operating out of the Airdrie detachment that patrol RVC, including one supervisor.
"I've certainly voiced the need to increase that number with RVC but I'm not having any effect," he said. "One thing that's different in Airdrie than in say, Cochrane, is we protect our city resources that the City of Airdrie pays for. They are just for the City of Airdrie. Cochrane works on a post system where they put their city and rural as one unit and patrol."
Sage said he essentially runs two detachments under one roof - Airdrie City RCMP and Airdrie Rural RCMP.
Johnstone said she contacted Chestermere-Rocky View MLA Leela Aheer via email with her concerns and received no response. A call to Aheer for comment was also not returned by press time.
Johnstone said she understands funding for additional officers is not likely to be a priority for the Province.
"It feels like we're sitting ducks out here," she said. "We're far enough away but also close enough to the city (of Calgary) that these guys know no one is going to respond. If we call, it's going to be 20, 30, 40 minutes before RCMP respond, depending on what the issue is. It's not the response we deserve for what we pay in taxes."
Kaiser said the County is constantly assessing the situation.
"Like any municipal service, policing is always a delicate balance between costs and benefits. At this time, we believe we have that balance right, but we are constantly assessing our police and peace officer presence in the County," he said.
"With the downturn in the economy, there has been an increase in property crime, particularly in rural areas near major urban centres. Rocky View County Enforcement Service is taking steps to address the concern, including increased patrols and community presence in the impacted areas. We will be asking the RCMP to do the same."
Kaiser said residents are being asked to do their part to discourage the criminals by locking residences and vehicles, not announcing vacations on social media and keeping an eye out for one another.