By Cole Parkinson
With work on Citizens on Patrol/Range Patrol seemingly stalled, Municipal District of Taber council was given an update on the progress of the programs by the RCMP.
During council’s regular meeting on September 11, Cpl. Gord Yetman informed councillors the community peace officers and RCMP members were focusing on bringing Rural Crime Watch to the area.
“In talking with Kirk (Hughes, Regional Enforcement Services sergeant), it looks like Rural Crime Watch (RCW) is probably the way to go here. It’s not something, unfortunately, that we can stand up overnight but with that said, I am looking at the possibility of piggybacking off of a neighbouring jurisdiction,” explained Yetman.
Rural Crime Watch began in 1978 with support from the Alberta Cattle Commission, the Western Stock Growers’ Association, the Farmers Advocate and the RCMP and was originally called Range Patrol.
The program was established to provide additional ‘eyes and ears’ for the RCMP and the groups organized vehicle patrols in an effort to identify and record suspicious vehicle and human activity in rural areas.
It was eventually renamed to Alberta Rural Crime Watch and in 1993 it was decided a province-wide umbrella group was needed to support and enhance crime prevention so a committee was formed to produce bylaws and policies.
While many of the original focuses of the group remain, they also focus on promoting Crime Prevention through awareness, education and encouraging reporting of suspicious activity when observed.
With Range Patrol and Rural Crime Watch discussed, council wondered what the differences were between the two and if there were any benefits in choosing either one.
“My understanding is, I did a little research when we were originally talking about Range Patrol, it sounds like Range Patrol is what RCW may have spawned from. Range Patrol was something started, I believe, by a group of cattle ranchers. Basically to keep an eye on each other ranches and to reduce the number of cattle thefts,” stated Yetman. “Rural Crime Watch seems to be the more common initiatives these days because they have a large board and governing body. They can make things happen relatively quickly.”
Several neighbouring communities have already joined Rural Crime Watch and Yetman said he expects to reach out to others to see if they could team up.
“What they did in Bow Island (County of Forty Mile) was they stood up an RCW in the Bow Island area, basically piggybacking off of Cypress County who already had one. Perhaps, since we don’t currently have one, and would have to stand up a new RCW, I think the best for us would be to reach out to say Lethbridge County or talk to the members in Coaldale to see what they are doing out there,” he said.
With the County of Forty Mile already in the mix with RCW, council questioned if they could just go through the process with them instead of finding a different municipality.
“I don’t think so, I don’t think you can piggyback off one that is already piggybacking,” answered Yetman. “I’m thinking we reach out west and see what we can come up with.”
He also stated he would be meeting with the Town of Vauxhall about Citizens on Patrol in the near future.
In terms of when they may see the roll out of the new program, there were no hard dates set by either side. Spring 2019 was looked at as a potential deadline and Yetman expected it to be up and running before then.
“I would imagine so. Basically, the way it will likely work, I will gather the information you need for how to get it up and running, my understanding is people from Rural Crime Watch will come down and assist with the meetings. Of course, when those meetings occur I’ll make sure I have someone there from my office much like the Range Patrol meetings,” he said. “Once we get the initial groundwork laid, it is something that should take hold quickly.”
Reeve Brian Brewin pointed to November or December of this year as potential start up points.