Lloydminster RCMP Detachment Insp. Neill Pearson spoke to the Rotary Club of Lloydminster Monday on the differences between a municipal-funded police force like his versus rural policing funded by provinces. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO
The Rotary Club of Lloydminster called the cops to its Monday lunch meeting.
Lloydminster RCMP detachment Insp. Neill Pearson briefed Rotarians on the differences between municipal and rural policing and Alberta’s new crime reduction strategy.
He was backed up by Const. Grant Kirzinger, who fielded some questions in the Prairie Room of the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds.
Pearson said the province’s new rural crime reduction unit is similar to the municipal one the RCMP already has in Lloydminster.
“It’s a way of identifying prolific offenders,” said Pearson.
“We also work with our partners with probation and social services—It’s kind of a group effort.”
Pearson explained the way the force is set up in Lloydminster is the city pays for municipal policing contracts, so they don’t have to do any rural policing.
“There seems to be a little confusion,” he said.
“Municipalities have an agreement with the mounted police and rural is with province.”
The City of Lloydminster pays 90 per cent of the cost of the 49-member local force with the federal government paying the remaining 10 per cent.
An additional RCMP officer costs about $162,000 a year all in.
The Lloydminster detachment is currently managed by K-Division in Alberta that is rolling out the crime reduction strategy for rural areas.
The Alberta government will spend $10 million for more RCMP officers, civilian staff and Crown prosecutors for rural policing.
Pearson described the strategy as an intelligence-led approach to reducing crime.
“It’s going to be a provincial rollout on the rural setting, so they’ll identify offenders and talk to them and see if they can convert them over,” he said.
“They have to make their own decisions.”
Pearson said in the past five years the division has seen a 23 per cent increase in rural crime with the majority of it being motor vehicle theft.
He said the crime reduction concepts that apply in the city apply in the rural area such as making sure things are locked, reducing opportunities, having good lighting, and reporting suspicious activities.
“The big thing is watching each others’ properties,” said Pearson.
In Lloydminster, he said calls for service have gone up by 18 per cent in the past year.
Pearson said in the past two years, the city has seen an increase in the theft of motor vehicles, theft under $5000 crimes like shoplifting and frauds.
He said fraud is a huge crime because of the financial impact on families.
“The same issues that you have in the rural when it comes to thefts of trucks and vehicles, we get that here too,” said Pearson.
He said a lot of these criminals have strong addiction issues funded by theft.
“We work hard with our social agencies to try to get people off being addicted to drugs,” said Pearson.
“It’s just an uphill battle—drugs are controlling and it’s easy to default onto.”
Last Friday, a man in Maidstone died from a suspected drug overdose.
Pearson noted the Maidstone detachment is getting six more officers for a traffic unit that provides coverage right up the interprovincial border in Lloydminster.
“So that means no more lead foot to Saskatoon,” he joked.
The traffic unit from Vermilion provides similar coverage on the Alberta side of the city.