Page 4 - November 27, 2017
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Residents gather at Rural Crime Task Force

continued from front

will work with it.”
To stress the relevance of crime in our area, Staff
Sergeant Peter King delivered some local crime
statistics to the large crowd in attendance. “In 2013
there were 414 criminal code investigations. In
2014 there were 562 investigations. 2015 was our
peak at 704. In 2016 there were 538 and 2017 it's at
594, of those 194 are oilfield related thefts,” said
King. “So when we look at it in totality, our area is
not seeing the drastic increase from other areas in
our province.” King explained that different
initiatives have been taken to reduce criminal
activity in the area.
Eglinski then invited the public to voice their
concerns on crime in the area. One of the main
concerns stemmed from the fact that it is illegal to
defend one's own property in the event of a robbery
or break-in.
Members of the meeting described different
scenarios where their vehicles had been broken into
or items stolen from their shops, and how an
individual's home was broken into while they were
still there and not being able to stop these criminals
because of the laws in place.
“As much as I'd like to tell you, you can —you
cannot lawfully defend your property with the use Approximately 170 people gather in the Peers Multiplex on November 17 for discussions on
of force,” said King. “You have the right to protect rural crime and prevention. photo Cassie Kushniruk
yourself from bodily harm or death, but you have
no lawful authority to provide any threat to a in. This is the same vehicle that robbed the food setting or at the adolescent stage, which often leads
person on your property to protect it.” store." them into the world of crime.
One attendant brought up the 'castle law' which “By the time the police arrived, 38 minutes had “When I first got here, the RCMP had a
was in the process of being passed when Stephen transpired. It takes me 20 minutes to drive from disconnect with the youth,” said King. “We created
Harper was Prime Minister. The law states that a Peers to Edson going the speed limit. They still the school resource officer position to go to the
person is legally granted the right to use force in didn't get them. That concerns my safety because schools and create a relationship. A relationship
defending one's property in certain situations. “Will they saw me. What if they're going to come back? I where that member is teaching them positive life
we ever see this come through Canada again?” the don't feel safe.” choices." According to King, youth crime has
attendant asked. “We need to be able to protect our “Yellowhead County is a big county,” said King dropped significantly over the past year.
homes." addressing the resident. “I do not have the In relation to adolescents within the community,
Eglinski responded, “With the current state of resources in any night to provide multiple member the subject of mental health was raised. “This war
government, I don't think you'll see any response in all directions. It's something that's out on violence doesn't start when they're 25, it starts
strengthening of the criminal code. That has of my hands and out of my ability to solve.” when they're 13 and there's no system to support
stopped and is going to be stopped for at least two “I'm not proud of our response time. But them,” an attendant argued. “What is the
years. We're hoping that this report will at least everyday my members put on their uniforms to try conservative government, the NDP government,
open the eyes of the current government to see the and make a difference,” said King. our MLA's doing to address this need for mental
situation we're facing.” King provided information on the exact number health awareness and mental health treatment?”
“The one thing we want to make clear is that you of people staffed within Edson and Yellowhead MLA Oneil Carlier stepped in to answer the
have to be careful in defending your property,” County. Currently, 27 members are employed in question, saying, “Recent scientific evidence shows
Eglinski said. Edson with different responsibilities. In Edson and that a lot of our issues in society, whether crime or
Another main concern of the night involved the Yellowhead County there are approximately 50 harassment, can sometimes be treated as mental
delayed response time of the RCMP. An attendant employed as part of the police force. However, this health. A lot of funds have been allocated to
described that when she calls the 911 emergency does not mean that all those members have the secondary education systems to address mental
number, it takes 45 minutes for a police officer to authority to detain and arrest. health there, and in high schools as well.”
show up at her house in Yellowhead County. “Why do we want peace officers and sheriffs?” Two final questions remained. How can we help?
According to the attendant, most of the time they another attendant asked. “We're losing RCMP What can we do as a community to help police
do not respond until the next morning. “There's a officers by having peace officers.” “Our roads are officers and other members of our community?
lot of people that live far away. You're telling us safer than our homes, and that's messed up!” “Tonight's a great start,” said King. “Rural crime
that in defending yourself, you hurt one of these another said. watch is a community based initiative. It has to be
guys, and you go to jail?” Eglinski explained the situation, saying, “The initiated by you.”
Another resident spoke, “I saw a robbery in province has the sheriff services because it is a United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney
progress in Peers and it was the third one I cheaper cost for them. These officers are hired by recently announced the creation of the UCP's Task
witnessed. I left the safety of my home and walked the province dedicated to that duty." Force on Rural Crime, which will work to address
to where I knew they would be breaking in. I called Another issue brought up by the attendants was the current increase in rural crime affecting
the RCMP and said they were going to be breaking the use of recreational drugs in a high school Alberta's rural families.

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