Rural crime needs legislative change, not more lip service.

The trend is evident on all levels of government. Politicians talk big but do little on the pressing issues of today. They make excuses and hide from any and every issue that may involve taking a solid stand on something or actually acting rather than speaking.

We see this with Trudeau’s cowardice on the Trans Mountain pipeline issue, we see this with Calgary city hall tossing the Olympic question back and forth like a hot potato and we see this provincially as citizens desperately seek action rather than more words on the rural crime epidemic which is gripping the Alberta.

Last night I attended a rural crime watch meeting for the MD of Foothills at the Okotoks Centennial Center. The room was packed and it was standing room only as hundreds upon hundreds of concerned citizens came out in hopes of seeing some solutions to the rural crime problem.

I have been a local crime watch member for years and have attended a number of meetings. I have never seen a turnout like this.

The best way to describe the mood in the room would be to say concerned and frustrated. People are not eager for blood. People do not want to take the law into their own hands. People are however feeling that the system is failing them while they live under siege from criminals.

There were a number of speakers from different levels of government (though no provincial or federal elected officials for the area were present).

There was a senior bureaucrat who came down from the Alberta Justice Minister’s office. He spoke at length of the new $10 million investment from the Alberta government to combat rural crime and how it would be applied in a number of ways from increasing the number of police and prosecutors to plans for local crime reduction strategies. It was appreciated and was informative but it does feel like a drop in the bucket. Having 39 new cops is great but when we are speaking of a region with well over 100 detachments, the impact will be limited. Again though, it was appreciated and it is understood that policing alone will not solve this crisis.

We had a number of RCMP officers from the detachments that cover our MD (Turner Valley, Okotoks and High River. They read out local crime stats and explained the large area that they were tasked to cover. They are doing what they can but again are limited by the resources that they have and the area that they have to patrol.

Before the local crime watch presidents came up to speak, a pause was taken to introduce Edouard Maurice and his wife Jessica Maurice to the room as they were sitting in the front row. There was no need to explain who the Maurice’s were or why they were there. The room exploded into a standing ovation and applause that lasted several minutes. If anybody was wondering for a second how local sentiment was regarding using firearms to defend one’s family and home was that doubt evaporated in that moment.

Eddie Maurice and family have been victimized twice. Once by the criminals who invaded their home and a second time by the Canadian justice system which has treated them as criminals for defending themselves. They never wanted to be in this situation and did not choose to become the symbol for local victims of rural crime but that is what they have become.

Rural crime has been a growing issue in Alberta for years but it is the tragic situation of the Maurice family that brought this issue to such a head.

The rural crime watch presidents then took the floor and spoke to the development and initiatives of their organizations. It was informative and many new members signed up. Crime watch organizations are great groups that help proactively prevent crime. Their expansion is one part of the many required to reduce rural crime levels.

Next up was the question and answer period. This was where the frustration was clear from both the audience and those trying to respond to the question. The theme was the same as I have seen at prior meetings. People ask what they can do in the event of a crime and the answer from the front is to tell people to call the police, cower, wait and pray that the criminals don’t mean any physical harm to the residents during the 40 minutes or so before an officer arrives at the scene. This just won’t cut it.

I know that no police officer or official can counsel a person to grab a firearm when their home has been intruded upon. I know damn well that no amount of threats or finger wagging at public meetings will prevent home owners from defending themselves and their families with whatever means are at their disposal when push comes to shove and that includes firearms.

We are at an impasse.

Crime is on the rise. Insurance companies are now starting to refuse coverage to many residents because they are getting robbed too much. Last night one of the officers said “stuff is just stuff”. Sorry officer but that is simplistic bullshit. That “stuff” which is being stolen over and over and over again is often made up of the tools of the trade for the homeowners. They need that “stuff” to make a living and we can’t expect people to let themselves go bankrupt as they remain chronic victims of thieves. They should have the right to defend their “stuff” and their person and they will no matter what you tell them.

I am no legal expert but I would say that it is pretty clear that a jury of Maurice’s peers will quickly acquit him. That was made clear as hundreds of his peers applauded him last night.

Despite the likely hood of an eventual acquittal, the Maurice family will still endure years of stress and expenses all for trying to defend their home.

Do we expect every family that defends themselves from criminals to endure this? Well, if we don’t change the system that is what will happen.

If folks keep getting acquitted by juries, then clearly the law is wrong. We need to change the laws and that is where we need those ever elusive people we call elected officials to get involved.

We need to address stiffer sentencing for repeat criminals. The police at last night’s meeting repeatedly pointed out that the majority of the crimes are being committed by a small minority of chronic criminals. If that is indeed the case, it is time that we stopped releasing that small minority. Catch and release doesn’t cut it.

Addiction is a big factor in driving many criminals. We need effective investment in addiction treatment and mental health. That will take some political will on the part of government.

We need to look at a Canadian version of legislatively entrenched Castle Doctrine which will protect people who defend their homes. This will take some discussion on things such as property rights and rights to self-defense which are some pretty complicated and touchy issues (again why elected officials hide from them). Well, tough issues or not they need to be addressed. That’s why we pay em the big bucks.

While there was no native factor involved with the Maurice case, it is simple fact that a huge amount of the spike in rural crime is in areas within 50 kilometers or so of native reserves. Native issues terrify politicians like no other but like it or not they are not going away. They are getting worse. We need to revise or scrap the entire Indian act and the failed reserve system before we see improvements on those socioeconomic catastrophes that we call reserves. A pretty tall damn order but it needs to be done and we have to start somewhere.

Crime watch meetings and local organization are great. That is about all we can do as citizens to change this crime epidemic however. The rest is in the hands of our elected officials and many of those officials appear bound and determined to sit on those hands.

Somebody is going to die soon. Whether it will be a homeowner or a home invader is really the only question. Warning us not to defend ourselves won’t work.

Perhaps our elected officials need to ask themselves “Will this be easier to deal with now or when we have a body cooling in a farmyard and another homeowner under arrest?”.

The issue isn’t going away and it isn’t getting any better for waiting. If the elected officials won’t act rather than just talk the citizens will be working hard to replace those officials and I look forward to helping them in that. Let’s hope our local politicians find their courage before it comes to that.

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Rural crime. If nothing changes, another death is inevitable.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to see how increasingly bold and violent rural criminals are becoming. Just a quick google search found all of these violent rural home invasions in Alberta just in the last few years.

A 64-year-old man was hospitalized with a gunshot wound during a failed home invasion this week near Vermilion.

Blackfalds RCMP are looking for three suspects in a home invasion at a rural property near Red Deer.Police say the three entered the home in Linn Valley Monday morning at about 8 a.m. dressed all in black with face masks and carrying long-barrelled guns, RCMP said.

RCMP have identified a suspect in connection with a home invasion in rural Alberta where an elderly man was threatened at gunpoint.The masked robber was alone when he broke into the home in the Municipality of Foothills at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, police said. He pointed a firearm at the 77-year-old resident demanding money.

Many Alix residents are feeling uneasy and unsafe in their community after a local man was allegedly attacked with a machete by two men in a home invasion incident.

Ponoka RCMP are looking for five male suspects in a home invasion in Morningside.At approximately 2 a.m. on June 24 police say the men entered the home and restrained and robbed two occupants. Police were alerted to the incident after receiving a 911 call.The two residents were located in the home with minor injuries resulting from an altercation that occurred in the home.Further investigations revealed that the men entered the home with a firearm and restrained the two victims. Further to the invasion the suspects took five firearms, coins and a 1995 maroon Dodge Ram that belonged to the victims.

The RCMP has arrested two men following two home invasion incidents where a man was held at gunpoint.Two men are facing charges after a lengthy investigation involving Morinville General Investigation Section (GIS), the Forensic Identification Section and the RCMP Edmonton Serious Crimes Branch.

Sylvan Lake RCMP say two men rang the doorbell of a residence on Leaside Crescent at 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 7.The 65-year-old female home owner answered the door and the men came into the residence and assaulted her. Police say she was punched several times by one of the males, but was not seriously injured.

There are many more reports of violent incidents and literally thousands of property crimes to report. I think I have posted enough to make my point.

RCMP are advising rural residents to lock their doors, call 911 and cower and pray if people invade their property. People are expected to hope that the criminals are not violent and they are expected to let their hard earned property get stolen over and over and over again.

Sorry folks but that just isn’t good enough. In light of an explosion of rural crimes coupled with 40 minute police response times, rural citizens are feeling the need to protect themselves and their families and they will be using firearms. Chiding from fools who live in urban environments where neighbors are mere feet away and police response times are often under 5 minutes won’t dissuade rural crime victims from planning on self-defense nor will threats from the law.

The old saying of “I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6” is what applies here. In reality, we know that no jury would convict in these cases so yes we may very well choose to come out with guns blazing.

How are we to know if and when the latest invaders are going to be violent?

Do we know if they will simply stop at stealing from the yard or garage? Will they just steal one of the vehicles and leave? Will they decide as many do to break into the household? Are they just thieves or are they rapists as well? These are the things we have to think about while we sit in our homes as people invade our property. We often will have as long as an hour to think about it before police arrive. The criminals know this too of course and that is a large part of why rural crime is spiking.

Some fools say “It’s only property, let it go!”.

Really? How much are we expected to “let go” of?

This property is often what we require to make a living. Tools of our trades. Vehicles. Fuel. All things that we need to use in order to feed our families. Are we supposed to let these crooks just keep taking it at will? That is what is happening as some properties are getting hit over and over and over again. Not all crooks are stupid and they remember which houses are taking the cower approach to crime. They know that they can comfortably rob those homes repeatedly.

Another popular vacuous statement is “Let insurance take care of it”.

Do these people think that insurance is free? Every time you make a claim the premiums will rise. Not only that, many rural homeowners are finding that insurance companies are refusing them coverage for theft because it simply is happening too much. Where does that leave us?

Yes, it is inevitable that somebody is going to die soon. The only question is whether it will be a homeowner or a criminal.

Perhaps some or even many have died already. How often do we hear of addicts who have suddenly disappeared never to be seen again? I wonder how many of those picked the wrong rural property to rob and found themselves buried on the back 40? There is nobody around to hear the gunshot or watch the backhoe work.

It should not come down to this but that is where we are going.

Rural crime is exploding due to a number of factors and unless all of them are addressed we will see it continue to rise and with tragic consequences.

The biggest elephant in the room is the native element in rural crime. Native reserves are socioeconomic disaster zones where crime and addiction are running rampant. Rural crime rates explode in areas within 50 km of any native reserve and it is hardly a coincidence. Nothing terrifies politicians and authorities in general more than dealing with the catastrophe that we call the reserve system but it will only get worse until somebody gets the balls to take on the issue.

While dominated by natives, not all rural crime is committed by them. The Maurice case in Okotoks has no racial element to it at all. In the Maurice case though, the criminals were found to be in possession of methamphetamine. Addiction is another huge piece in the rural crime puzzle. Increases in funding and supports for addiction treatment will go a long way towards reducing rural crime (along with health and incarceration costs). We need to seriously work on addiction issues everywhere in Alberta.

The justice system needs more teeth as well. The vast majority of rural crimes are being committed by a small number of repeat offenders who are constantly being released in our revolving door justice system. We need to give strong sentences to repeat offenders and need to stick with them. It is no cheaper to have them in and out of court 6 times a year than to simply keep them in prison for a solid year. Maybe with a long sentence they can get the treatment they need. Releasing them sure as hell isn’t working.

Local policing needs more resources. The NDP announced funding for 39 more officers recently. That indeed helps and it is appreciated. It is however a drop in the bucket when it is considered that we have well over 100 detachments in the province.

We could better prioritize our police resources. How much time do uniformed police officers have to dedicate to traffic enforcement and writing reports? Are there not auxiliary units for paperwork and other minor incidents? Lets examine how we can free up our highly trained RCMP officers for the more serious responses rather than tying them up on mundane issues.

Rural crime watch organizations are self-funding and often have some pretty lean budgets. With more resources in funding and training these organizations can become much more effective in preventing crime and making rural communities feel safer.

Those of us living in rural communities do not want to take the law into our own hands. If we wanted careers in law enforcement, we would have applied to be police officers. We would gladly hand off home protection to the authorities if we felt it was effective.

Right now though, 40 minute response times coupled with unreasonably long police response times makes us feel we must take care of things ourselves.

Warnings won’t make us stop protecting our households and property with whatever means are at our disposal. Only substantial changes to how we deal with rural crime will do that.

Until the change happens, we are on a collision course with tragedy as somebody is going to die.

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The sound of silence

 

Rural crime in Alberta has been spiking for years. While RCMP stats claim the increase is as low as 41% somehow, local stats just in my little area have vehicle thefts increasing as much as 300% and property crimes in general doubling in the last few years.  This trend is evident across the entire province.

Below is my local report for just the last two days. It just doesn’t stop.

Jason Kenney and the UCP requested an emergency debate on rural crime in the legislature last November. The request was unfortunately shut down by the Notley government.

It came as no surprise to rural citizens when a situation arose which led to somebody getting shot.

 

 
Fortunately, nobody was killed when the situation unfolded on Eddie Maurice’s property in the very early hours of February 25th. A man was shot in the arm however and now Eddie Maurice is facing some very serious charges for the crime of standing up to protect his family.

Frustrated, infuriated and sympathetic citizens came out en-masse to show support for Eddie Maurice and his family last Friday when Maurice made his initial court appearance.

It speaks volumes when 200 people make time early on a cool Friday morning to come and stand outside of a rural courthouse.

Rural citizens are tired of being robbed and terrorized. They fear for the safety of their families and their property. They understand that things are escalating and that any one of us could have found ourselves in Eddie Maurice’s shoes if put into the same situation.

We understand that if this explosion of rural crime is not addressed soon, it is inevitable that a situation is going to arise where a person gets killed. Warnings from the RCMP against us defending ourselves and our property will mean little when we find intruders threatening our homes after dark when we know that the average police response time for an emergency is 40 minutes. We will take things into our own hands and deal with the legal fallout later.

The Maurice incident appears to have finally awoken the Notley government on the issue as $10 million was just dedicated to fighting rural crime.

The funding will bring 39 new officers, 40 civilian staff and 10 Crown prosecutors focused on rural crime.

I fear that the increased officers and prosecutors will be used to crack down on crime victims who act to protect their own property but lets hope for the best. The government realizes that there is a serious problem and the addition of more officers is a good start.

Now that Notley and the NDP have awoken on the issue, where is Jason Kenney and the UCP? Where is Andrew Scheer and the CPC?

The issue of rural crime has been burning hotly throughout Alberta yet the silence from our elected conservative officials has been nothing less than deathly.

While I understand and appreciate that MLAs and MPs should not speak directly to specific cases before the courts, there is no reason nor excuse as to why they cant speak to the broader issue of rural crime as a whole.

While hundreds of citizens gathered in Okotoks last Friday, Pat Stier and Wayne Anderson of the UCP were nowhere to be seen. John Barlow of the CPC was absent as well. Neither the legislature nor the parliament were sitting on that day. If 200 people gathered and fearing for their safety is not an issue for an MP or MLA to attend to personally, what the hell is?

Now is not the time for political cowardice. This issue is too damned important.

Yes, there are some sticky aspects to this issue that makes many politicians want to cover their political testes and hide. Firearm use is touchy and polarizing. Addiction issues make many politicians squirm. While the Maurice issue appears to have no racial element involved in it (thank FSM), a huge amount of rural crime is directly tied to the socioeconomic catastrophe that we call the reserve system. Few things make politicians shudder more than native issues.

Well too damn bad! Suck it up guys! You campaigned to take on the tough jobs, now one is in front of you and I want to see you address it!

Where are the highway signs advertising town hall meetings on the issue? Where are the emails? Where is the press release? Where is the policy paper? Where is anything on this damn it?

At times, rural voters can be taken for granted by conservative parties in Alberta. The UCP and CPC know that they essentially have all of our rural seats in the bag and they are acting carefully to avoid possibly offending urban voters. Again, that’s just too damn bad. Urban voters would like to protect their safety and property at times too. Find a way to address it for all of us. Its your job.

While elected UCP MLAs are still hiding under the cone of silence, I see that some of those who are seeking nominations are speaking up at least.

Christine Moore is seeking a UCP nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan lake and as can be seen, she is not being subtle on the issue.

Perhaps some of our incumbent MLAs need some nomination challenges based on this issue in order to get them to speak up. Few things wake up a politician faster than the risk of losing their job.

This issue is a literal life and death one. The next incident may end up with a much higher price than a criminal just finding himself with a hole in his arm. A criminal is going to end up dead soon (maybe some are already buried on the back 40). A homeowner may very well end up killed soon too.

Our elected officials need to get on this bus with this one. If they can’t get involved in an issue this acute, what the hell good are they indeed?

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Support Edouard Maurice

UPDATE:

The rally in support of the Maurice family will be held at the Okotoks courthouse on Friday, March 9 at 9am. A map to the location is below and some more details can be found at the facebook event page linked here.

Along with the account and email address below, a “fundrayzr” page has been set up for the Maurice family as well. Click here. 

 

 

Edouard (Eddie) Maurice of the Okotoks area is facing three charges of aggravated assault along with firearm charges due to an event that happened on his property early in the morning of Saturday February 24.

As has become an unfortunate trend in Canada, the victim is treated as the criminal should they choose to defend their family and property from intruders.

Defending one’s property and family should not lead to imprisonment and possible bankruptcy.

While Maurice’s case works through the court system, a great deal of financial and emotional pressure will be placed on Maurice and his family. Legal fees and living expenses will become acute as time is consumed with his defense.

That is why friends and supporters are raising funds to ease these burdens on the Maurice family in the months to come in a trust fund.

A trust account at TD Bank has been set up by Travis Dunn (family friend) which will gather and hold funds on behalf of Maurice.

Donations can be made to any branch of TD to account number 8079-6142303 and e transfers can be sent to helpeddiemaurice@gmail.com

A rally is being organized to show support for Eddie Maurice on the morning of Friday March 9 at the Okotoks court house where Maurice will be appearing that day. I will add details for the rally as I get them.

Financial support is welcome and critical.

Showing support through the rally and online helps too. We need to let the Maurice family know that fellow Albertans will stand by them even if the “justice” system may not.

Rural Albertans are tired of being victimized by criminals and being victimized by the system when they try to defend themselves. Rural crime rates are exploding and people can’t be expected to wait up to 40 minutes for aid to arrive. Self-defense of family and property is essential.

Please consider sending some funds to help the Maurice family and try to find time to come to the rally. This is so important to the Maurice family and all of us.

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Alison Redford hits tinpot dictator status in her latest petty move.

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During a crisis elected representatives on all levels take on a new role of leadership in gathering and disseminating critical information to their constituents. A local councillor, MLA or MP is always well in touch with the area and it’s people and is a familiar face for residents to turn to in a disaster.

I think that well over 99% of people would agree that in a crisis of the magnitude facing Southern Alberta in this disaster that partisanship must be set aside so that all representatives may best serve their constituents. This means including ALL local elected officials MUST be kept fully in the informational loop as briefings are held so that communications may be sent to residents.

Leave it to Alison Redford to hit a truly pathetic new low in having Danielle Smith, the MLA for Highwood kept out from government crisis briefings while putting the long gone former Progressive Conservative MLA on the podium to speak to residents of High River.

That is right, Alison Redford would rather have a former and retired MLA speak to residents rather than the one popularly elected to represent Highwood. I could understand if Smith was from outside of the constituency and was trying to ham in on camera time. In this case, Danielle Smith resides right in the heart of the disaster. Would Redford ban Nenshi from Calgary briefings? Of course not.

Redford is actually purposely interfering with the role and job of an MLA during a literal disaster. I would expect this sort of crap in Russia or Iran where democracy is a mere façade.

I am sure Smith and many others are too polite to say it but I will come right out with it. Redford is a sour and miserable person who has trouble endearing herself to anybody at the best of times. The Premier and her sad little band of communication monkeys are hoping to capitalize politically on one of Alberta’s worst disasters of the century. While Danielle Smith is simply trying to do her job, Redford fears the optics of a hardworking and caring MLA further endearing herself to the electorate through doing her job.

This strategy will backfire Redford as you work quickly to enshrine yourself as Alberta’s most pathetic, self-serving Premier in history. 2016 cant come soon enough.

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