By Cole Parkinson
The Municipal District of Taber community peace officer program is still less than a year old, but the interest in it has been growing steady throughout.
As they currently patrol M.D. regions, the Village of Barnwell and the Town of Vauxhall have both shown interest in using the CPO’s services moving forward. Barnwell originally approached the M.D. earlier this year, asking about incorporating the M.D. officers into regular patrols within the village.
During council’s regular meeting on May 8, councillors discussed a letter they received from the Town of Vauxhall requesting a similar proposition.
“In the past, Barnwell has approached us in regard to our peace officer program and recently the CAO (Derrick Krizsan) was approached by Vauxhall in response to potentially expanding our CPO program into their community. In the past, that position was occupied by Jason Schreiber from the Town of Bow Island. He is a peace officer level two, but subsequent to that, the Town of Bow Island has realized they need Jason in their community and have rescinded their contract with the Town of Vauxhall, leaving Vauxhall without any bylaw or any enforcement other than the RCMP,” said Kirk Hughes, development and community safety officer for the M.D.
Town of Vauxhall staff have indicated their annual budget is at $31,500 per year which would equal out to around 630 hours per year for cost recovery. Talks in regard to what exactly is needed with Town of Vauxhall administration have yet to be undertaken, but M.D. staff will be looking further into it.
“There has been a request from the Town of Vauxhall to the M.D. of Taber to explore, potentially, bringing that program into their area. I haven’t done a lot of background work on this, I thought it would be best to approach council first,” added Hughes.
While talks with Vauxhall have yet to commence, a few details have been discussed between the M.D. and Barnwell.
Since last discussing the matter during a M.D. regular meeting in March, M.D. administration have got a decent idea of what the Village of Barnwell would need from the community peace officers.
“We have met with them, they indicated they would need about 200 hours a year,” said Krizsan.
One of the biggest hang ups when considering expanding the CPO’s roles in the area is whether or not they have enough manpower.
Since the peace officer staff is only comprised of three members, adding even more to their plates may not be sustainable, especially since they already canvas a large region to begin with. Before moving ahead with adding Barnwell and Vauxhall to the slate, the CPO team will be accessing what they require.
“The truth is, I’m not sure. My guys are busy enough as is within the M.D and I’d hate to take resources out of the M.D. to have these supplement contracts available. That said, speaking to the Town of Vauxhall should be my first step to see what they need,” said Hughes.
While Hughes isn’t for sure certain what the Town of Vauxhall is seeking, he has an idea based on past meetings between the two.
“I think, from my understanding from the Town of Vauxhall in previous meetings, they are looking for that level of enforcement. So there is 630 hours of per year in their budget of 315 and that was for a CPO level two, a CPO level one is more expensive. It would really depend on what they want and how they want to see this program initiated into their community. I won’t know that until I sit down with them and hammer out the details,” said Hughes.