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Sask.’s budget packs a punch for rural crime
Sask.’s budget packs a punch for rural crime

The 2018-19 budget provides full funding for newly created Protection and Response Team

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Saskatchewan’s budget provides $4.9 million in funding to improve the Rural Crime Strategy and to fund the province’s Protection and Response Team (PRT).

The Government of Saskatchewan created the PRT last summer. It consists of 258 armed officers who have arrest and detention authorities, according to a Government of Saskatchewan release on Tuesday.

The force includes municipal police, RCMP, Ministry of Highways vehicle enforcement officers and Ministry of Environment conservation officers.

The PRT will be able to add 30 police officers to its force thanks to the investment.

Once the team is in full force, it should help reduce the incidence of crime in rural areas.

“The province is in the process of training conservation officers, highway traffic enforcement officers and special constables,” Ray Orb, Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, said to Farms.com today.

“When the force is completely up to speed, I think it will make a big difference in helping the RCMP shorten its response times.”

Some of the PRT’s initiatives to date, according to the release, include:

  • Launch of a dedicated Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods unit in Prince Albert.
  • Purchase of Automatic License Plate Recognition Technology for PRT officers.
  • Completion of Saskatchewan’s first Rural Crime Innovation Challenge, which led to the development of an app-based tracking system to alert land owners about irregular activity related to their properties.

Recommendations by the government caucus committee on crime include making sure RCMP resources and staff are used effectively in rural areas, reviewing legislation to allow municipalities to collectively manage alternative policing programs, and providing increased funding for on-reserve programming and services, the release said.

The committee developed these recommendations following consultations involving 10 communities and 58 stakeholders.

“Our government understands that many rural residents have very legitimate concerns about crime and safety and that more needs to be done,” Christine Tell, corrections and policing minister, said in the release.

“We’ve already seen positive feedback from the initial development of the Protection and Response Team and are confident that it will be an effective long-term strategy for crime reduction in rural Saskatchewan.”

Last month, rural residents took to social media to express their concerns about rural crime in the province and to encourage the government to act.

The Ministry of Corrections and Policing will also provide a continued annual funding of $1 million to address other recommendations, the release said.