The unofficial eyes and ears of rural Alberta have officially partnered with the RCMP to fight crime.
Alberta’s Rural Crime Watch group has teamed up with the RCMP after they signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining the roles of both groups in the battle against rural crime.
President of the Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association, Trevor Tychkowsky and RCMP Deputy Commissioner Todd Shean, commanding officer of the Alberta RCMP signed a memorandum on Thursday afternoon at K Division headquarters in Edmonton, which formalized the roles and partnership between the two groups.
Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch Association president Bonny Swart said that the MOU signed by the provincial group and the RCMP does not change the relationship the group has with the RCMP. Swart said that the Sturgeon County group has always worked closely with the Morinville RCMP and the new document will not alter their already strong relationship.
“We were always in partnership with the RCMP. We were a little surprised that it needed to be signed. They were always there for us and we were always there for them,” Swart said.
Swart said that their group is looking to partner with other agencies outside of the RCMP to tackle the root causes of crime. The group wants to partner with health organizations and be involved with Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs to help prevent crime from happening.
Swart said that although crime rates are on the rise across Alberta, crime in Sturgeon County has not spiked in recent years.
The county group, which has around 800 active members, has been connecting with Sturgeon County residents by hosting town hall events in communities across the region to educate them on crime happening in their area. So far they have hosted about five events.
Swart said one way to deter and prevent crime in the community is to report any crime or suspicious activity to the RCMP. The president said something as seemingly small as an unknown suspicious vehicle driving through the community can be reported the RCMP. Swart said residents can also register their alarm systems with security cameras with the RCMP so the police are able to use their footage to solve crimes that may have happened on their street.
The Sturgeon County group is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year and is continually looking for more members. To join Crime Watch residents can go online to www.sturgeonruralcrimewatch.org to become a member or to get more information on the organization.