PENHOLD – The town recently identified rural crime as a high priority, and even more so now with the newly annexed 1,300 acres of land from Red Deer County.
Penhold peace officers Victor Tam and Jay Klause are stepping up their patrols in the new, more rural areas of town, which were officially added to local boundaries as of April 1.
“There’s more patrols. Especially with the new annexed (area), east of Highway 42,” said Tam, noting they have been increasing patrols in those areas since the annexation became official.
Tam also stressed the importance behind the “lock it or lose it” campaign, a message shared by both RCMP and peace officers.
“The number 1 thing is when you leave, to make sure your house is locked up and everything is secured,” he said.
Tam also noted the important role the public can play, especially where rural crime is an issue.
Oftentimes, people can be an extra set of ears and eyes for peace officers and RCMP, he noted.
“They’re the ones who are out there living in that area. They know who’s coming and who’s going,” said Tam. “We’re not there every day, so (people) can be a set of eyes for us and help us by reporting any suspicious activity.
“It’s about everybody helping each other,” he added, noting they do assist RCMP and Red Deer County peace officers when asked.
Since last fall, there has been much discussion around rural crime and concerns of crime in and around Penhold, said Rick Binnendyk, the town’s chief administrative officer.
The town has been working to address the issue by creating a Penhold Rural Crime/Safe Community Committee.
“The committee is in the works right now,” said Binnendyk. “(Crime and rural crime) was something we heard quite a few people comment about (during last fall’s municipal election campaign).”
Although the focus of the committee will be in town, there will be some discussions pertaining to rural concerns, he added.
The idea of forming a rural crime/safe community committee was discussed at a recent strategic planning session.
“The planning session decided we should have a committee driven by our community members,” said Binnendyk, noting the session took place in November.
They are currently in the process of recruiting community members for the committee before moving forward.
“I think we’re looking at a few weeks. It’s being advertised right now and we’re hoping some people volunteer,” said Binnendyk.
The committee’s mandate includes conducting a safety diagnostic for Penhold, developing a business model, implementing the plan and evaluating the outcomes to ensure they meet the town’s needs.