Q&A with Ed Pierce and Mary Dika-Fisher of the Grande Prairie District Rural Crime Watch Association

Ed Pierce, President of Grande Prairie District Rural Crime Watch Association

Tell us a little bit about the Grande Prairie District Rural Crime Watch Association.
We are a volunteer rural community crime prevention program covering parts of the County of Grande Prairie and the Municipal District of Greenview No. 16. We work collaboratively with law enforcement to prevent crime through education, information and presence in rural communities.

We also collaborate with the local RCMP, County Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife, other community crime prevention groups and the Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association to remain informed on current crime prevention information and strategies.

Additionally, we provide information to community residents to assist with understanding which emergency responder or contact to call in certain situations – an example of this being Report a Poacher.

Please provide some background about the forthcoming Rural Crime Watch Symposium in Grande Prairie. Who should consider attending?
The Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association holds annual symposiums in different locations throughout the province to encourage participation in local areas. Typically the symposiums are rotated and divided into three areas: northern, central and southern Alberta. It has been over 10 years since it was hosted in Zone 3 (comprised of the following Rural Crime Watch Associations – Beaverlodge, Grande Prairie, Grovedale, Peace River, Valleyview and Dawson Creek, BC). Our symposium takes place on February 21-22 at the Pomeroy Hotel. We encourage all executive and directors who sit on the Rural Crime Watch Associations to attend as well as Rural Crime Watch members.

Mary Dika-Fisher, Vice President of Grande Prairie District Rural Crime Watch Association

Please give us a bird’s-eye view of the crime situation in Grande Prairie and the Rural communities around it. What has been done by private citizen-led groups, including rural crime watch chapters, to combat the apparent spike in property crime in our area?
Grande Prairie District Rural Crime Watch encompasses the following areas: Bezanson, DeBolt, Teepee Creek, Crooked Creek, Ridge Valley, Wembley, Webster, Saddle Hills and all rural sub-divisions. This is a huge area for the RCMP to cover. The common theme of theft is property crimes (vehicles, ATV’s, fuel, etc.). GPDRCW has a fan out system, and we encourage the membership to report suspicious activity or a crime.

The member should make the first call to the RCMP, then call us. When they call us, we then take their report and do a membership fan out. This fan out goes to all Rural Crime Watch members in Zone 3. We encourage our membership to be the extra set of eyes and ears for law enforcement.

A preliminary report from the government panel showed there seems to be a connection between rising crime rates in areas where there are consumption sites. What are your thoughts on that?
We do not have consumption sites in our rural communities.

Rural communities are recently made to pick up part of the tab for policing costs. Why is that necessary?
Our tax dollars have always assisted in paying for policing costs. It is money well spent! Our RCMP vow to “Serve and Protect” our communities. It is important for us to collaborate and support the local RCMP, County Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife and any additional community crime prevention groups, which will assist in deterring crime in our rural communities.

Please talk about the Crime Watch App as a reporting tool against suspicious activities.
The Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association App allows you to quickly access local RCMP detachments across Alberta to report a suspicious person or a person in distress. More information can be found by visiting www.ruralcrimewatch.ab.ca. This is a valuable asset to download on cellphones.

Are there any rural crime-reduction programs in the pipeline that residents of the Central Peace region can look forward to knowing about?
As members under the provincial mmbrella of rural crime watch, we are continually striving to look at programs to educate the public. One very successful program in place is CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design. The principals in CPTED form the base for our crime prevention sessions held through-out the province. You can check out the MAP at www.ruralcrimewatch.ab.ca.