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New rural crime prevention has local MP hopeful

Lloydminster’s rural communities will be safer starting next fall. 

The province of Alberta released plans to help combat rural crime. A major new addition is a new task forced named, RAPID Force. This stands for Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defense Force. MP of Lakeland, Shannon Stubbs, hopes this will make a difference. 

“When door-knocking (in Lloydminster) every summer, in between the elections, people and families and business owners and residents raise the issue of rural crime. It’s also the number one issue my constituency office receives calls and emails about.” 

Four hundred peace officers will have their roles expanded in Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch and the traffic division of the Alberta Sheriffs. Training has started and it’s expected the officers to be available by fall of 2020. 

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Stubbs stresses to continue to report any rural crime. She’s afraid Rural Crime Watch Associations will reduce the number of calls, in turn, statistics would not accurately reflect the true crime rate. 

“I think their move to expand the powers and the authority of the existing law enforcement agencies within Alberta, is a good thing, to try to increase the response times in rural communities.”     

The province is currently working on changes to the Occupiers’ Liability Act.  They are going to strengthen trespass laws by increasing fines up to $10,00 for a first violation and $25,000 for repeat offences. 

Stubbs has been a strong advocate for rural crime prevention since she first step foot in the House of Commons in 2015. 

“What all Albertan’s will look forward to is to seeing the details. They made the preliminary announcement and what will be important is to see the ways in which this will really roll out.”

Stubbs stated, in 2012, rural crime numbers in Canada increased, with Alberta being the leader. She says she’s happy to see the government to start to tackle rural crime, but more work has to come in the future to prevent it in the future.  

“I know there are many people who have had experiences where there has been either a long response time or maybe officers hadn’t made it out at all when they or their family members have been affected by crime.”  

Stubbs also mentions it’s good to see more support for victims. A new program will let communities take part in the sentencing of offenders by submitting a statement that describes how the crime affects the community. Community impact statement forms will be available online in January.

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