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.