An increasing rate of property crime, especially in rural areas, has been a big topic in Alberta.
In a year-end interview, the top cop in charge of the RCMP in Alberta focused on what’s being done to help as well as how investigators are working on addressing the underlying causes.
Todd Shean, K-Division’s RCMP Deputy Commissioner, who took over the helm in Alberta eight months ago, explained the single biggest issue for him was coming up with a comprehensive crime reduction strategy.
“In other provinces and municipalities I’ve worked in, that has been something I’ve been able to help implement and the same goes for here,” he said.
“Work was being done in different pockets of the province, but not overall, so there was a need to make it someone’s job.”
That job was given to the criminal operations section, but to Shean it’s also about stitching together actions by the police and the community.
“We aren’t going to arrest our way out of this. We know there are a small percentage that are responsible for the large majority of this kind of crime. They are walking around and looking for that attention and we want to ensure they get that,” he stated.
“That’s also why we are working on our partnerships to help address those underlying causes to help break that cycle. Our front line officers need to have that good understanding of the impact they can have.
“It’s also important that we partner with our communities and work together with citizens. They can help us develop a strong intelligence program and if the public is invested, it will help us get an understanding of these crimes and why they are happening.”
Shean added that understanding is key to not only catching those responsible, but on getting the public to help the police so officers can help everyone.
“Driving forward, I truly believe this is a partnership with a role in prevention and education. The public can ensure they are not being an easy target and that intelligence piece — understanding who is doing it and why — is also important,” he said.
“A different way of doing that is through call management. All calls are important, but how can we find a way to take the complaint information, use it differently and help us to better address these crimes?”
One initiative that began in central Alberta is being ramped up somewhat and is something Shean may look at expanding across the province depending on its success.
Last year, several RCMP detachments in the region started working together and sharing information more readily regarding property crime. That project took another step forward earlier this month when a district advisory officer was named for central Alberta to help implement further crime reduction measures. Some of those measures have worked significantly in the Rocky Mountain House detachment.
“Our work with GIS (general investigation section) officers has already done some of this, but these individuals don’t know borders which sometimes have limited the RCMP in the past,” Shean stated.
“We need them to know there is no place they can hide and that if they are going to harm people or property, we will be there front and centre though we also need help from our community partners.”
Alongside this project, the RCMP also have the ‘habitual offender program’ and training for all officers on ITU (integrated traffic units) duty, both of which assist in identification and apprehension of violators.
The ITU brings RCMP and Alberta Sheriffs together to patrol Alberta’s highways.