On trial – bylaw officer in Elk Point

Elk Point’s electorate was loud and clear when the current council members campaigned last fall. Residents demanded better protection from crime and more enforcement of bylaws.

 

In response to these demands, Elk Point Town Council included $50,000 in the 2018 budget with the intention of hiring a part time peace officer. This person would respond to bylaw enforcement and animal control issues, thus allowing the RCMP to focus on crime detection and prevention. Rather than hiring a peace officer, however, the town has negotiated a six-month contract with RF Protection and K9 Services of St. Paul, to begin on July 1.

 

Council has chosen a six month trial to see how residents respond and to determine if having this service is more suitable than hiring a peace officer.

 

The contract will begin with three months of public education.  This will give residents time to get used to the officer, Rob Forbister, and his vehicle. From July to September, Forbister will teach residents about the by-laws and give friendly reminders to offenders. In the same period, the town will run ads in the local paper and on social media to introduce the company, provide contact numbers, and explain the company’s role.

 

Enforcement will begin in October and will continue until December at which time the service and the need will be reviewed.

 

The current animal control officer has been given notice of termination of his contract. Animal control issues will be enforced by RB Protection based on complaints received.

 

Town CAO, Ken Gwozdz, sees a number of advantages to hiring a company over hiring a peace officer: “The company has people who are qualified so there will be no need for training. The company supplies the vehicle and the manpower. It’s within the budget; there is no unbudgeted expense. And if it doesn’t work, we’ll scrap it.”

 

RF Protection is not new to Elk Point. They have provided security at the site of the burnt 8-plex and perform mobile patrol at night to private businesses. Their service and experience also extend beyond Elk Point. They will provide security at the Centerfield Music Festival in St. Paul on June 15 and 16. As well, they have contracts in localities all over northern Alberta.