By Cole Parkinson
The South Central Alberta Rural Crime Watch Association have continued to make their way to councils across the region.
During Vauxhall town council’s regular meeting on Aug. 20, the group was in council chambers updating councillors on where the organization was at.
“We are forming another rural crime watch association in the area. Back in February 2018, the provincial rural crime watch association along with the RCMP wanted to step up and do something about the crime going on in rural communities. We decided to work with the RCMP and the Solicitor General, along with all of the communities and whatever police force is in these communities. So that was the goal, to start a collaboration with everyone to get extra eyes and ears out in the community,” said Kevin O’Grady, president of South Central Alberta Rural Crime Watch Association.
Open houses to introduce Rural Crime Watch back to the area and gain members were held in March in both Vauxhall and Taber.
From those meetings, around 30 people attended overall and a board has been set up.
“With our members, we educate them on who to contact as soon as something is happening. The worst thing is when a crime is happening and (Sgt. Gord Yetman) can attest to this, he will get a phone call a week later saying these guys were hanging around here. It’s kind of late but if it is happening and they get a phone call right away it makes a big difference,” added O’Grady. “The members will automatically get a fan out because that is how it works. If we receive any information from the RCMP or the town police or the Community Peace Officer program, we will notify all of our members. That way they know to watch out.”
After getting things set up, the group has been moving from council to council to provide an update and keep them informed of how the organization has been doing.
“We are already meeting with some of the councils. We’ve met with the M.D., we’ve met with the Town of Taber, we’re meeting with you folks tonight and we have a meeting next month with the Village of Barnwell. We also already have interest from south of us to meet with their council.”
“We hope we can expand into Warner and that area. The main purpose is to get everyone educated on what is going on and when you see something happening, who to call,” continued O’Grady. “We filled out all of our applications and it’s been sent off to Edmonton. Now we sit and wait.”
In terms of rural crime issues, O’Grady pointed out that it is affecting everyone, including the towns and villages within the M.D.
“I know in Taber we have issues that are going on in town and ending out in the M.D. or vice-versa. Stuff going on in the M.D. and ending up in the town,” he said.
With Citizens on Patrol also being present in Taber, council questioned if the two were similar and if there would be a collaboration with the two groups moving forward.
“It’s a little like the Citizens on Patrol but the big difference is we don’t have people driving around. The Citizens on Patrol like to have people travel around at night and stuff like that. The Rural Crime Watch works directly with Citizens on Patrol, and Taber has Citizens on Patrol. Constable Mark Valgardson is looking after that and he is the police liaison but there is also a whole board that TCAPs runs,” explained O’Grady, who also stated he had been asked to join the Citizens on Patrol board. “If you look at Enchant and Hays, it wouldn’t hurt to have extra people driving around if there is something happening in the area. With Citizens on Patrol, if they know there is something going on in that area, they get people driving around. Most of the time though they are just keeping their eyes out.”