Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Rural Crime: The politician speaks

Criminal Minds at Work is honoured to have Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, as a guest today. 

In the following op-ed, the Hon. Doug Schweitzer addresses concerns regarding Alberta's rural crime and law enforcement. As a victim of rural crime myself, I am interested in what he has to say.

With police often a good half-hour or more away from rural properties, criminals know that no matter the security system residents might have, they have plenty of time to take what they want and not get caught. This criminal boldness is fueling fear and anger in rural Albertans and potentially escalating property crimes to the level of violent crimes.

Let's see what the Minister has in mind:

Clearing the Air on Police Funding

The first duty of government is to protect the safety of law-abiding Albertans. After the NDP sat on their hands for four years as crime rates skyrocketed in many rural communities, Albertans gave the United Conservative Party a historic mandate to keep Albertans safe, secure and protected. 

Our government is committed to giving law enforcement the tools and resources necessary to ensure there is a sustainable reduction in crime and Albertans have confidence that their justice system will protect them, their loved ones and their property.

To ensure we have a law enforcement system that enhances public safety and emphasizes frontline policing, our government is fulfilling our campaign promise to review how police are funded in Alberta. The current model has resulted in a shortage of policing services. We’ve been listening to Albertans, municipalities and others and are asking for feedback on a number of models on how police should be funded. 

To be clear: our goal is more police services. If any new funding model that would collect funds from more municipalities is chosen, any funds collected would be reinvested in frontline policing and would lead to an overall increase in funding for police services in Alberta. It would lead to more police funding, not less.  Any assertion to the contrary is absolutely, one-hundred per cent false. And unlike the NDP’s carbon tax, this is not a cash grab.  

It is the height of hypocrisy for the NDP to profess concern for the safety of Albertans. Their failure to adequately fund law enforcement and criminal justice resulted in a revolving-door justice system where Albertans lost faith in the ability of government to protect them.

Rural Albertans deserve better. That’s why they elected a government that will ensure the justice system reflects the realities of rural Alberta. While the NDP ignored the needs of rural Albertans, we are listening.  While they talk, we are taking action. I have been conducting the most comprehensive consultation on rural crime and rural policing in Alberta’s history, traveling the province to hear from as many Albertans as possible to help ensure we have safer and more secure communities.

Ensuring Albertans feel – and are – safe and protected goes to the heart of who we are as a government. We want to make sure we fund law enforcement in a way that will enhance public safety for all Albertans and ensure we have more police in our communities.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

-        Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

Rural Crime: The politician speaks is brought to you by The BackTracker Series--rural crime in Alberta at its most violent best...

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