Crime : The elephant in the room.
Once again Edson is mourning the loss of a young gi r l ; another victim of murder. As usual there is a flurry of media activity, heartfelt words are said and things on the outside at least appear to go back to normal. For the family and friends of the victim and indeed, the accused, life will never be normal again.
There have been other murders in the Edson and Yellowhead County area and not so long ago either. These investigations always get plenty of attention. However, it has always been my gut feeling that a downtrend in the economy coupled with the lack of an effective state safety net is a perfect storm for crime.
Province wide we have RCMP statistics that show there were 65 homicides in Alber t a in 2015 compared to 36 the year before. The previous high mark was 2011 when there were 51; the ten- year average for annual homicides in Alberta is 40.
We asked Sgt. Jack Poitras, now a media representative for the RCMP, about any correlation between economic hardship and crime and this is what he said: “What I have noticed is that some crimes go up and others drop on a yearly basis. There is no apparent cause for the change in numbers. Our homicides were up last year in the Province. There was no apparent reason for the homicide rate to jump up in Edmonton back in 2011.”
Statistics from the Ed son detachment do show spikes in assaults, up 29 percent in the provincial detachment and 19 per cent in the municipal detachment respectively and robberies went from 5 to 11 in 2015 an increase of 120 per cent.
Percentages can look spectacular when numbers are comparative ly low and even an increase of one or two can skew the impression. Nonetheless, my instincts, based on what comes across my desk every day, social media chat and reports in the media for example RCMP saying in late 2015 that crime was at, “crisis levels,” in Grande Prairie as councillors considered the budget.
Anyone that has any knowledge of the towns in Yellowhead County and the rural areas in- between will be aware that there has been a long- standing crime problem. I will go further, there are places, individuals and groups that are associated with organised crime in the area that seem to have blatantly carried on their activities for years. Why is that?
Furthermore, unorganised crime is common and looks to be getting worse. I know there have been instances of break ins thefts, assaults, property damage, drug offences and more that are just not reported. As a former rural resident of Yellowhead County I also know that rural policing is not the best and I appreciate that there are cost and man power issues for the RCMP here.
I think it is high time that the RCMP and the municipalities addressed the issue of rampant crime that is the elephant in the room. It might be, figuratively speaking, that the elephant is hiding under the carpet or with the other skele - tons in the closet. The Community Safety Initiative ( CSI) www. edson. ca/ csi is a welcome start. Time to clean house.