Police chief says rural crime team a ‘net gain’ for Prince Albert

Police Chief Troy Cooper

Prince Albert’s police chief says the province’s new rural crime strategy will have an impact on the city’s police force, forcing them to reshuffle officer priorities.

But the end result, Chief Troy Cooper told the Daily Herald, should be a “net gain” for the city.

The Protection and Response Team, announced Tuesday, will add three officers to the Prince Albert Police Service and one to a combined gang and drugs unit, the chief explained. But it will also direct the service to “repurpose” three existing officers.

“When they use the term repurpose, what they’re referring to is a shift in priority for those officers,” Cooper explained. “So we’ll have less officers available for what they’re currently doing, and they’ll be asked to move toward this new task force that the government is developing.”

But the chief said he’s confident the force can adjust. The new response team’s regional focus, Cooper suggested, could help his officers tackle wider threats like gangs and drugs – problems that don’t respect city boundaries.

“We know that some of the drugs that are ending up in Prince Albert are coming from the west coast,” he said, “and if we can stop that vehicle before it gets into our centre, through trained traffic enforcement officers, we’re going to benefit from that too.”

The chief said both he and Mayor Greg Dionne participated in consultations leading up to Wyant’s announcement. He suspects their comments about the need for a “strategy without borders” on crystal meth found their way into the announcement on Monday.

“For us to try and address things within the city limits, it’s not effective,” he said. “We need to be able to have integration and partnership within the region, so I was excited to see that.”

For more on this story, see the Wednesday edition of the Daily Herald.