COCHRANE— New funding from the provincial government will be bringing three new front line officers to the Cochrane RCMP detachment.
“From a policing perspective I was ecstatic when Mr. [Premier Jason] Kenney made the announcement,” said Cochrane RCMP Cpl. Troy Savinkoff. “I’m extremely supportive of it in every way. I think it’s a great idea.”
The front line officers will serve as RCMP members who attend emergency calls received by the public, Savinkoff said. They also patrol areas in rural communities to try and prevent crimes before they happen.
“They’re the backbone of our detachments,” Savinkoff said.
Cochrane is unique he added, because it has 20 provincial RCMP officers dedicated to rural areas including Bragg Creek, Stoney Nakoda First Nation, Springbank, Bearspaw and other locations west of Calgary, and a municipal contract with the Town of Cochrane that employees 23 officers.
Savinkoff said the three officers will be a welcomed addition to the team because of the population growth the region has seen over the past decade.
Savinkoff joined Cochrane RCMP in 2008 and to his knowledge, this marks the first time additional provincial RCMP positions have been brought into the detachment since his arrival.
“If the population is growing and there isn’t an increase in the policing to deal with that your kind of having to do more with less every single year,” Savinkoff said.
The addition of the three officers was made possible through a new taxing structure for provincial rural residents designed to directly support policing in those areas, Savinkoff said.
He added that the officers will help Cochrane RCMP pursue progressive initiatives to help lower rural crime in the area. Savinkoff said Cochrane has created the Crime Reduction Unit and employs an analyst to continually watch and understand crime trends.
“If we see a certain crime trend in a certain area or a specific type of crime we will direct enforcement actions towards that,” Savinkoff said. From there they can develop strategies to proactively lower crime in the area.
Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer said the government heard loud and clear from Albertans that people did not feel safe, especially in smaller communities.
“They wanted greater access to police services— They wanted to know that somebody was coming,” Schweitzer said. “This is in response to the needs we have in our rural communities.”
The provincial created a new police funding model that would invest $286 million over five years to provide police services in rural Alberta.
The funds will create 300 new positions and an additional 200 civilian support staff positions. The additional officers will allow the force to grow from about 1,600 officers to about 1,900 officers, Schweitzer said. There will also be an additional 400 law enforcement sheriffs brought into the province as well to help respond to emergencies.
“This is about increasing the police presence across Alberta,” Schweitzer said. “It will allow us to provide greater safety to people in rural Alberta where we’ve seen a massive increase in crime over the last three, four, five years.”
Fraser Logan RCMP media relations manager said the first wave of RCMP expansion in Alberta will include the hiring of 76 new police officers and 57 new civilian support positions over 2020/2021.
To date, 25 frontline police positions have been filled in rural Alberta communities, along with 18 centralized police officers and three civilian support positions.
RCMP resources were allocated based on factors that include travel time, call time, types of crimes occurring, the time required for investigations, detachment size and time available for proactive policing.
Logan said the RCMP is continuing to analyze more efficient ways to deploy resources in the province.
“It’s important to realize the deployment of these resources it’s not that every detachment gets one new member,” Logan said, explaining that officers are being carefully deployed based on several factors. “While rural communities may be paying X amount of money in the additional funding for these positions that’s not necessarily commensurate to exactly what they may get in future resource deployment.”