Editorial – Old solution still the best

Jeff Burgar

Will a person experienced in tracking down somebody who shot a moose out of season be dealing with a domestic dispute?

How about somebody who knows how to check a logging trailer for load safety now filling out a shoplifting report?

Our fairly new provincial government must have a slew of examples and ideas how this latest idea on saving money will work. This idea is have provincial Fish and Wildlife officers, sheriffs and commercial vehicle inspectors start handling 911 calls.

This is the upshot of rural crime hearings Alberta’s new justice minister, Doug Schweitzer, held around the province. One meeting in St. Paul had 300 people complaining about rampant thefts from rural properties.

So we have a variety of treatments for this crime disease. First, new cops won’t be added. As said above, bodies will be shuffled around instead. Apparently, certain government employees have time on their hands. Or maybe, they will just happen to be in the right place at the right time to pitch in.

So, those game officers, inspectors and sheriffs will be asked to help RCMP officers and other police services. The idea is improve 911 response times.

Maybe all a situation needs is a uniform or two on the scene. It still seems a far cry from a master plan. Even just training is sure to come, right?

The next idea has a nice ring to it. In the best traditions of bureaucrats and politicians everywhere, fines will increase. Woo hoo!

Trespassing fines will now be $10,000 for a first offense, $25,000 for a second offense. That’s sure to really slow the crooks, eh? We have no idea why this thinking isn’t applied across the board.

$100,000 for shoplifting a roll of toilet paper. $200,000 for speeding 10 km over the limit. $300,000 for politicians coming up with dumb ideas. Oops, sorry for that last one!

It slipped in after we read about Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer. He says, “Our goal is to provide the strongest protection for rural Albertans possible, and we will not let up.”

So here are all these ideas. Which presumably, came from the town hall meetings, right, and not from the mind of Doug and his minions.

It isn’t really a story of what happens after the bad guys get caught. Lenient judges, wimpy fines and jail times are all a problem.

But are bad guys really thinking about such things when planning their next crime? As in, “We better not take all this stuff, ‘cuz that’s going to put us over $5,000. And that’s maybe another month in jail.”

Not at all. The thinking is, “How likely is it we are going to get caught?”

If crooks didn’t worry about getting caught, they would be working in broad daylight, scooting off with as much treasure as they could handle. Probably in a semi-trailer they stole earlier.

NDP critic Kathleen Ganley says, “The biggest concern is we’re not seeing additional boots on the ground.”

Catch bad guys. Fast. This is the real answer.

Share this post