COP revival touted at public meeting

High Prairie RCMP hosted a community consultation meeting Sept. 12 for the Town of High Prairie. Sitting left-right, are Cpl. George Cameron, S/Sgt. Warren Wright and Cpl. Brent Lawson.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

High Prairie citizens and business owners are being urged by local RCMP to write to their MLA to request more funding and resources to fight crime.

About 20 people heard that message by the High Prairie RCMP at a community consultation meeting Sept. 12 for the Town of High Prairie.

“Rural crime and your safety are much bigger than us,” S/Sgt. Warren Wright says.

“We have to work with our provincial government.

“I think you need to talk to your MLA.”

He urges people to write a letter to Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn to lobby for more funding for more resources.

“I would like more officers,” Wright says.

Currently, 15 RCMP officers respond to calls, he says.

“We need to write to our MLA to give him some ammunition,” resident Lindsay Pratt says.

Other citizens also encouraged people to write letters to Justice Minister and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer and Premier Jason Kenney.

“We need more funding for more police officers, mental health services, Alberta Health Services and the justice system,” Wright says.

“A lot of crime is addictions-fed; people steal to sell something to buy drugs.”

He says the only answer is to get more resources.

“We need Alberta Health Services to get more mental health services and a mental health clinic in High Prairie,” Wright says.

He pleaded citizens to be proactive to get more resources in the community.

“It needs to come from grassroots, the people,” Wright says.

“You, citizens of High Prairie and Big Lakes County, can go through those channels to change.”

A similar meeting for Big Lakes County is planned for early spring 2020 co-hosted by High Prairie RCMP and Faust RCMP.

Despite the concerns of crime, Wright says High Prairie is a secure community.

“This town is incredibly safe to live in,” Wright says.

More crimes occur in the outlying areas, he adds.

Wright is also concerned about the increasing amount of paperwork officers must do on a case that takes police away from getting out into the community.

Methamphetamine and cocaine are the prominent illegal drugs in the region, Cpl. Brent Lawson says.

Two officers work on drugs under enhanced policing supported by the town and county.

Citizens are also encouraged to report any suspicious or criminal activity to the RCMP anytime.

“Don’t stop calling because it creates more occurrences that will help us get more members,” Wright says.

“We can’t do anything if we don’t know anything about it.”

He also suggests a Citizens on Patrol COPS) program could be revived for the community.

“I’m all for Citizens on Patrol if people want to come forward and take the lead,” Wright says.

“It has to be community based.”

Residents agreed.

“Citizens have a role to play,” business owner Greg Radstaak says.

“Business owners have to be more vigilant.”

Pratt suggests the High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce could spearhead COPs.

Sgt. George Cameron supports the program.

“It would do well in the town,” Cameron says.

“I’ve seen it work in other communities.”

He says Alberta Citizens on Patrol would be willing to visit High Prairie to help the community start a local group.

Some citizens at the meeting wondered why more people didn’t attend since many complain about crime and policing.

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