INNISFAIL – Talks have begun to either expand the geographical mandate of the Innisfail Policing & Safe Community Committee to cover rural areas within the jurisdictional area of the Innisfail RCMP or create a second committee that would be under the direction of Red Deer County.
The Innisfail committee, which was created in 2019, now serves to operate as a citizen-based advisory body on crime prevention issues within the borders of the Town of Innisfail.
However, many local policing issues increasingly spill outside the town into Red Deer County, which a significant part falls under the jurisdiction of the Innisfail RCMP.
“It only makes sense now to expand it. It's just been something that no one has brought up until now,” said Joy Milne, chair of the Innisfail policing committee, during an interview following the Innisfail engagement forum on local policing on Nov. 15. “I think it would make sense to have everything together because the criminals that are coming into Innisfail are probably hitting the rural communities too.
“There will be some differences of where our focuses are, but the RCMP is already servicing all of us, so our needs can work together.”
The idea is now being floated through preliminary discussions by the Innisfail RCMP, the Innisfail Policing & Safe Community Committee and administrations of both the Town of Innisfail and Red Deer County. It has not yet been officially brought to the elected councils of either municipality.
“I'm joining them on the discussions. I invited to a meeting here coming up shortly,” said Todd Becker, the chief administrative officer for the Town of Innisfail. “My job is to gather that information and I'll take it back into our committee and on to council to see what they think.”
Innisfail RCMP Sgt. Ian Ihme, acting detachment commander, said last week his office was recently approached by Red Deer County officials about starting a rural police advisory committee as ones have been established with the Blackfalds and Three Hills detachments but not in Innisfail.
“Why that never existed I have no idea,” said Ihme. “What I said to them (county) was, ‘would you guys be open to looking at a regional model? And they said, ‘possibly’, and I said, ‘then let's bring it up with the Town of Innisfail.
“For the most part, the (policing) committee was like, ‘yes, let's definitely look at this, because the Town of Innisfail looks at the rural community surrounding it like a regional, greater Innisfail because the residents live in the county, they shop at the stores, they use the services in the community, and everyone is friends," he added.
“Just because the boundaries of the town stop, doesn't mean that the issues stop. One thing I would say is that, regardless of what happens, we're either going to have a regional committee or there will be a county committee.”
He said if a regional committee is ultimately formed it will not be the entire geographical area of Red Deer County, just the area that includes the residents within the Innisfail RCMP detachment area.
“Whether there's a county committee or it's just one big committee, whatever the county and the town decide on we're supportive of either,” said Ihme.