After five successful rural crime townhalls, Larry Maguire, MP for Brandon-Souris, submitted recommendations he heard from residents, to the Public Safety Committee that is currently undertaking an in-depth study on the issue. The Committee has heard from expert witnesses on ways to improve rural crime prevention and to curb emerging crime rates.
Attendees want the RCMP to be visible in their communities.
Maguire concluded, “We want our rural communities to remain the best place in all of the world to raise a family and to make a home. I will continue to stand up for Westman in Parliament and be a strong voice for our region.”
RECOMMENDATIONS submitted to Public Safety Committee:
Many communities have seen an increase in overall population and/or crime rates increase, however the number of RCMP staffing allocations is slow to respond to emerging trends. RCMP staffing needs to keep up to current trends. No posting should be permanently eliminated due to it not being filled; and RCMP members should be able to have a lifetime posting in a rural community, if they so wish.
RCMP investigation costs cost
Consideration should be given to small population centres to ensure that the costs for investigations is not downloaded onto the municipality. Currently, for instance, if there was a homicide in a smaller municipality, some of those costs to investigate that crime would be borne with the municipality. In most circumstances, that bill would be hard for the municipality to absorb without raising property taxes.
RCMP community presence
In smaller communities who have an RCMP barracks or living quarters, the RCMP should ensure that these living quarters are upgraded and occupied where possible, to entice members to settle in smaller communities.
It’s in the best interest of the community that RCMP members be recruited to fill positions within their communities. They understand local issues and challenges.
RCMP time at hospitals
Currently individuals who are transferred to the care of a hospital or a corrections centre must be accompanied by an RCMP officer. The RCMP should work in coordination with the provinces to provide trained people who can carry out these transfers and allow RCMP members to stay in their coverage area.
Rural crime task force
Alberta has seen success in RCMP task forces, set up in the four regions. Waves of crime can often be directly attributed to just a small group of individuals; an RCMP rural task force could focus squarely on these suspects.
An application could be created for mobile devices so citizens could share information about crimes in real time with the RCMP. Photos, videos and other evidence could be shared without having to commute to a distant detachment. Rural residents would be encouraged to report suspicious activities or tips to solve crimes.
RCMP members spend a considerable amount of time travelling to and attending vehicle accidents, traffic incidents and other lesser offences. In conjunction with the province and municipalities, the RCMP should triage such calls and expand the mandates and powers of sheriffs, bylaw and other peace officers.
Rural Crime Watch
Rural Crime Watch groups or Citizens on Patrol provide an extra set of eyes and ears on the ground. Volunteers with either the RCMP Auxiliary or a Rural Crime Watchshould be eligible for a tax credit, in the same manner as rural volunteer firefighters.
Criminal Code enhancements
Some criminals specifically target rural residents. Due to the sophistication and planning of these rural break and enters/thefts, it is apparent that there must be greater deterrents in the Criminal Code. During sentencing, aggravating factors such as targetingrural communities due to their vulnerability, should be taken into consideration meaning stiffer sentences.
Security systems are a proven deterrent to criminal activity and improve police response times. A tax credit could be made available for property owners to help offset the costs of security systems and to encourage their installation.
Crime prevention programs
Idle hands are the devil’s tool. In many circumstances irresponsible adolescent behaviour is followed by a lifetime of criminal activity. There is a shortage of youth programs for rural communities, a lack of addiction services and support networks. The federal government should provide financial assistance and utilize social impact bonds for crime prevention programs and addiction services for underserved rural communities.
RCMP Criminal Code advisory board
It is frustrating for RCMP members to see a revolving door justice system. A permanent RCMP criminal code advisory committee could provide meaningful recommendations on necessary reforms to the criminal code; an opportunity for parliamentarians and Public Safety Canada to have unfiltered advice from frontline officers.