How city’s growth impacts the Airdrie RCMP
By: Christina Waldner
| Posted: Thursday, Jul 17, 2014 10:23 am
Insp. Gordon Sage has been in his new role as commander of the Airdrie RCMP for nine months, and in that short time he has seen the types and volume of crime in the jurisdiction grow and change.
“Growth is definitely the biggest issue we’re facing,” said Sage.
According to Sage, Airdrie is feeling the influence of its bigger neighbour to the south.
“Criminals think Airdrie is an easy mark. Getting out of the city is quick because of the highway,” he said.
“It’s key that we integrate our operations with the Calgary Police Service (CPS).”
Criminal activity in Airdrie increased by 27 per cent from 2006 to 2013, according to statistics Sage has compiled.
Working with CPS, Sage said they were able to clear up a number of major crimes, including a rash of home and vehicle break-ins in September and October of 2013, and the kidnapping of a woman from the No Frills store on Yankee Valley Blvd. in November 2013.
“We work very collaboratively with CPS,” he added.
Sage is hoping to add significantly more new members to his team of officers this year. Two positions were approved last year by City council and have been posted but not yet filled. He plans to present a request for additional officers – that he says are needed to keep pace with the city’s growth – to Airdrie City council in September. The three-year plan is aimed at raising staffing levels to a point that’s appropriate to the city’s growth.
Sage said he would not release how many officers he will be requesting.
“The infrastructure needs to keep pace with growth,” said Sage.
Airdrie RCMP operations are funded 90 per cent by the City and 10 per cent by the Federal government. Sage currently oversees a detachment of 41 city officers and 11 rural officers.
One program Sage says is working extremely well is the Enhanced Traffic Safety Program (ETSP) that allows extra officers to go out to respond to trouble areas, such as school zones or crosswalks, as identified by residents. The ETSP is funded by the City. According to Sage, the program is a prime example of the way the RCMP conduct community policing.
The program was established in 2010 as a traffic enforcement initiative to increase levels of safety on Airdrie roads. The ETSP does not affect current RCMP operations as it is run strictly on an overtime basis.
The ETSP is a self-sustaining revenue program. Overtime for the RCMP officers is paid for out of the revenue from tickets.
From the program’s inception in August 2010, through September 2013, the program cost the City $186,000 in overtime man hours. However, during that same timeframe, the RCMP generated $525,000 in revenue through tickets issued.
City council renewed the ETSP for four more years in November of 2013.
This isn’t the first time Sage has been part of a community experiencing massive growth. He was in Fort McMurray from 2000 to 2008 when that community saw and influx of residents and an increase in criminal activity.
According to historic municipal census data, Fort McMurray experienced an average annual growth rate of 6.1 per cent between 2000 and 2010. Airdrie’s annual growth rate over the past five years, 2008 to 2013, was 7.78 per cent.
The increase of crime in the community is something of which Sage is acutely aware, however, he’s confident his officers are doing the very best they can to ensure the safety of residents. He also said he believes collaboration at many levels is important in Airdrie as it’s growing and changing.
“Collaborating with the CPS is key but so is working with the community and the City. We are the citizen’s representatives. We respond to the community’s needs.”