With overall crime rates sky rocketing in Central Alberta, the Town of Eckville is putting proactive measures in place to protect citizens.
At a regular meeting of Town Council on Monday evening, Mayor Helen Posti and Council approved a motion to allot $25,000 from the 2016 interim operating budget to be put towards the purchase of a town entrance security camera system, as well as $2,500 budget to start up a Citizens on Patrol initiative.
The security system will feature a number of security cameras being placed at the three entrances to the town as well as other strategic locations.
Chief Administrative Officer for the Town, Jack Ramsden stated the cameras will be used to monitor the comings and goings to town.
“We are looking at having a number of cameras and also what is referred to as license plate cameras – which are designed to capture an image of a license plate on a vehicle going up to120 km/h,” said Ramsden.
He added the Town feels the cameras will hopefully allow them to assist the RCMP in identifying culprits in some of the cases.
“The town itself has been a victim of two break ins at our shop this year alone,” said Ramsden. “Then there’s the Town sign – which we are very proud of and we had some one stand there right across from GTI with a high powered rifle and shot holes in it. It was very disheartening. We are hopeful these cameras will not only deter crime but also help to convict people.”
“If it will help us solve one crime then it’s worth it. We want it to be more difficult for the criminals and hopefully they [the criminals] will move on.”
Mayor Helen Posti said rising crime rates have been on the Town’s radar over the past few months as a number of incidents developed. Posti added some feel if there was a strongerRCMP presence in Eckville then the problem would be fixed, but she added she’s not sure this is a viable option.
“A stronger RCMP presence isn’t going to stop people from committing crime,” said Posti. “This situation with the economy is likely going to get worse – people across the province are feeling it as are the people of Eckville.”
Staff Sergeant Gary Rhodes of the Sylvan Lake RCMP stated they have seen a crime increase in all Central Alberta communities with increases specifically around stolen vehicles, break and enters, as well as robberies.
In respect to Eckville he added since the two robberies at the local bar, along with the home invasion and a number of other incidents the RCMP have increased their patrols in the Town.
There were no Robberies in 2014 and this is the norm for Eckville to have no robberies,” said Rhodes. “Unfortunately that type of crime is difficult to stop without information being presented to the RCMP prior to the actual Robbery. In one of the bar robberies charges have been laid, the other is still under investigation. The home invasion and shooting investigation is proceeding well with charges expected in the near future.”
Rhodes also provided Eckville crime statistics for Council which stated the number of assaults went from 14 in 2014 to 24 in 2015. Break and enters rose from eight in 2014 to 12 in 2015,with theft of motor vehicles rising from 6 in 2014 to 13 in 2015. Robberies went from zero to three.