More than 250 police officers, including 120 from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), will be deployed in rural Saskatchewan to reduce the crime rate.
This initiative is part of a project to strengthen security in the region unveiled Tuesday morning by the Minister of Justice, Gordon Wyant. The project itself follows a series of recommendations from a committee to examine the state of crime in the province.
In addition to the police officers, the response team will make room for 98 wildlife conservation officers, who are already patrolling regularly in rural areas. All officers will receive comprehensive training to improve their response to various emergency calls, particularly to crimes committed on private property.
The government’s main objective is to reduce police response time to emergency calls. For example, a wildlife conservation officer near a crime residence may intervene directly and more quickly than RCMP officers who are not in the area.
With this new unit of intervention, we also want to fight drug trafficking by ensuring an increased police presence on the roads of the province.
Among the measures planned to stem the scourge of crime, the government intends to add 40 agents mandated by the Department of Highways and Infrastructure who will patrol the highways. They will also be given additional powers, such as the arrest and detention of suspects.
Agents may also be called upon to intervene in the event of a road accident by providing prompt assistance to victims.
Nearly $ 6 million will be invested in the implementation of this action plan. The Saskatchewan Insurance Corporation (SGI) will pay the majority of the costs by paying $ 4.9 million. The remainder will be covered by the provincial government.
The Government of Saskatchewan is committed to making Saskatchewan’s safety a priority. This project will allow us to continue to work for the people and communities of the province.
Saskatchewan Minister of Justice Gordon Wyant
Months of criticism
Crimes committed in rural areas have been on the government’s agenda for several months because of criticism of emergency interventions, often deemed inadequate due to lack of staff.
In the fall of last year, the Association of Rural Municipalities of Saskatchewan (MRSA) called for the addition of field agents to ensure the safety of farmers, following an increase in criminal activity in various sectors.
The organization even went so far as to suggest that members of the rural community should arm themselves to ensure their own security in the face of the lack of services offered by the government.
The case of Colten Boushie, a young Aboriginal man shot dead by a farmer near the farmer’s land, had contributed to the debate on rural safety.
The Wall government followed suit and set up a committee to provide recommendations on how best to reduce the number of crimes. The committee, led by former Minister Herb Cox, held a series of consultations and spoke to dozens of rural stakeholders, individuals and First Nations representatives.
In the course of his research, the committee has seen an increase in violent crime, particularly in the areas of drug trafficking and street gang activity.
The committee’s recommendations included the addition of mental health care services and the development of gang reduction and exit strategies in concert with the federal government.
“The Committee heard several questions about crime in rural and urban areas, the lack of visibility of the police in rural areas was worrying,” Herb Cox told a press conference.
“We are very pleased to respond to the recommendations,” he added.
Generally favorable reactions
MRSA President Ray Orb would have liked more investment, but was optimistic about the future. “We wanted more officers on the ground, we wanted to see more policemen … There are not more agents, but they have more visibility and we have faster response times “, did he declare.
The Saskatchewan Breeders’ Association welcomed the announcement by the Brad Wall government. “Breeders are faced daily with cattle theft as well as breaking and entering. Emergency response times are important [issues], “its representatives said in a press release.
RCMP Saskatchewan Commander Curtis Zablocki welcomed Minister Wyant’s announcement. “We had a hard time finding agents in the north of the province, there are frequent accidents on the road and the drugs that pass through our territory,” said Major Curtis.
“These measures will allow us to better address certain issues specific to the province,” he added.
However, Minister Wyant’s announcement left the official opposition frozzen. New Democratic Party interim leader Nicole Sarauer deplores the lack of space dedicated to mental health care and education in the project, despite recommendations on these aspects.
Ms. Sarauer argues that the government has distributed resources differently without releasing funds to create new positions. “We are facing an empty shell,” she said.
The leader of the NDP recalls that the government has made significant cuts in municipal police services in recent months. “It will be interesting to see how the government will deploy the very limited resources it has presented today,” she concluded.