Monday, May 14, 2007

Who Really Pays To Fight Crime?

Did you know: In Alberta, if you are a County, and M.D. or a town with a population of less than 5000 you don't have to pay anything for your RCMP officers?

If you are a city... you pay.

With Grande Prairie's growing population and the amount of money that flows around here it's no surprise that this area is a magnet for the "unsavory" side of prosperity.

From 2001 to 2004 we saw a 61.7% increase in Criminal Code offenses at our detachment. If we compare that to the other "growth hot bed" Fort McMurray where there was only a 9% increase over the same period you get the sense that there's something different about GP.

Going a little deeper you notice it again and again:

- we had 213 criminal code files per RCMP member in GP, the highest caseload in Alberta, compared to 115 in Fort McMurray.

- 26% increase in traffic offenses from 1999 to 2003 compared to an actual decline in the rest of Alberta from Red Deer North.

So back in 2004 when we put in the first three year budget for Grande Prairie we approved more money to fight crime. That meant tax increases of 8.2% in 2005, 6.3% in 2006 and 6.5% this year - which we've stuck to.

Over those three years almost half of the tax increase was because we decided to spent more on anti crime programs and more law enforcement professionals. We committed to hiring 16 additional RCMP officers and 3 more Bylaw Enforcement officers and in just three years, the RCMP costs have increased by 54%, from $6.3m to $9.8m!

Your city tax dollars pay for every single police officer that we have. It's not cheap, but it is important.

So keeping in mind how important proper public safety and law enforcement is for everyone does it seem kind of strange that there are people who don't have to pay anything for it?

In our area, Hythe, Beaverlodge, Wembly, Sexsmith and the County don't have to pay for RCMP - the province does it for them. (To be fair the County does pay for "Enhanced Policing", but it's only two more officers above what the province gives them.)

So, after reading this what do you make of this article about the MD of Rockyview (just outside of to Calgary)? They are upset because they feel that crime from Calgary is going into their area. They are so concerned about it that they have gone ahead and decided to pay for.... one more officer.

Gee - hope that $140 000 doesn't break the bank guys.

2 comments:

Rob said...

I think that proper spending might also be a concern. The new RCMP building is more extravagant than I'd ever imagine necessary. The front desk has counter tops made of granite. The phone system is as expensive as available. I haven't seen all the building but from what the public see and the architecture of the whole I believe it was overkill.

Bill Given said...

Hey Rob, thanks for the comment....

The new detachment was a requirement coming from the federal government. The public areas of the building are actually a small part of the whole facility and yes, they are nice but I'm not sure about overkill. The whole thing cost about $12 million and we were lucky to get it at that price before inflation really took off in the province. For comparison Ft. Mc Murray started building something of a similar size in 2006 and they've budgeted $51 million for it - only two years after ours came in at $12m.

You can see an image of the Ft. Mac building here: http://www.woodbuffalo.ab.ca/upbeat/2006-11.htm

As for the phone system, it is a VoIP system which provides additional features and is the same standard as the rest of the city's phone system and is becoming common in many businesses.

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