Crime : The ele­phant in the room.

The McLeod River Post - - Front Page -

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.

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