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MD Foothills council commits $150,000 to fighting 'traumatic' rural crime

A new Statistics Canada report says the national murder rate reached its highest point in a decade last year thanks to a spike in the number of deaths from guns and gangs. Seized firearms are seen on display during a Toronto Police Service press conference to update the public on the results of raids, which took place across the GTA on Thursday, in Toronto on Friday, June 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Goffin

FOOTHILLS (660 NEWS) — The Municipal District of Foothills council has extended funding towards combating rural crime in the area. In mid-January, council unanimously voted to allocate $150,000 to continue the enhanced policing program to the end of 2019.

The county initially ran a three-month pilot project between Oct. to Dec. 2018 to increase the RCMP presence in Foothills and the surrounding region. It was a joint project between detachments in Okotoks, Turner Valley, and High River. The need for the project spun out of a need to for increased traffic safety and prevention of rural crime.

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According to Priddis resident and councillor Suzanne Oel preliminary findings from the project are positive.

“We saw an increase in response times in some of the situations the enhanced person responded,” she said. “We also saw a lot of visibility, and some really great cost recovery on the traffic safety side with issuing fines and tickets.”

Foothills County received a signed agreement from the provincial government for the program to continue, and the program will commence in February. The rise in rural crime has had a traumatic effect on victims.

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“It’s very personal, it’s either happened to us, or our friends and neighbours, and this has what has brought it to be a number one priority for all us to focus on,” she said. “Our council is very receptive because it’s such an important topic to our residents.”

Oel has noticed that people “are happy that we are responding” and “thought this would be a way to use this opportunity to spend a bit of money to see if there were some results and cost recovery.”