Red Deer City Councillor Buck Buchanan put forward a Notice of Motion that if approved would see a new BEAT Patrol for Red Deer.
The proposed BEAT Patrol, also known as Community Engagement Teams in other municipalities, would work in partnership with the crime prevention services, downtown business associations and insurance companies. It would consist of volunteers and regular members that act as extra eyes and ears for policing through both walkers and bike patrols and act as a presence on the street in the downtown core to deter high crime in the downtown areas.
The group would also assist in community events and prevention awareness activities such as handing out information packages for downtown awareness regarding high crime and theft areas.
The Notice of Motion also addressed proposed changes to the auxiliary program which were introduced this year resulting in auxiliary members losing peace officer status and being excluded from duties that they once were able to assist with which has brought their minimum volunteer hours from 160 hours to 90 hours. The Notice of Motion stated auxiliary officers could be integral in delivering BEAT Patrol services.
RCMP Supt. Scott Tod said if a BEAT Patrol was put into action, it would require the City to hire nine additional full-time RCMP officers.
Meanwhile, the Red Deer Downtown Business Association (DBA) is in support of the Notice of Motion.
“I am delighted to see such a notice put forward by a member of City council. It is exactly what our downtown needs,” said Amanda Gould, executive director for the Downtown Business Association. “An ongoing and predictable RCMP presence downtown in any capacity would be a huge step forward. The visibility of patrol members would provide reassurance to visitors, act as a deterrent to criminals and would go a long way in changing the perception of our downtown. We have so many great things going on down here but negative perceptions around personal safety often act as deterrents to visitors and it’s time to change that.”
Council referred the Notice of Motion to the Community Safety Ad Hoc Committee for further consideration. The City will also continue to monitor the situation regarding the deployment of auxiliary officers. The Ad Hoc Committee is expected to bring forward a safety strategy in the coming months.