Rural crime pilot project in Foothills County becoming permanent

·1 min read

A pilot project launched by the RCMP in partnership with Foothills County last summer to provide 24-hour police patrols and other coverage in the municipality's rural areas is evolving into a more permanent plan.

The Foothills County Rural Policing Plan incorporates new rural deployment strategies for more than 20 RCMP officers from detachments in Okotoks, Turner Valley and High River.

Working with the county, officials say it has meant increased rural patrols and police presence without affecting work in local urban areas.

County Reeve Suzanne Oel says they're pleased with the plan's progress.

"I've heard results from residents that have said they've had really good interactions with the RCMP when they've had incidents take place — that they've had responses that have been immediate — and so overall presence, people have noticed the presence of the RCMP," she said.

Staff Sgt. Laura Akitt, who leads the unit, says this kind of zone policing strategy helps officers target ongoing problems like rural property crime and auto theft.

"It gives us the ability to provide 24-hour policing to the entire Foothills County, which I think is extremely important. It also gives us the ability to mobilize resources quickly if we need to."

Akitt says they'll be drawing on community feedback and tracking crime trends to help assess progress.

County funding will range from nearly $1 million this year to $2 million by 2023.