By Tim Kalinowski
Cypress County council voted to retain the County Mountie for one more year, at least, at last Tuesday’s meeting in Dunmore. But council also stipulated that the next year will be a probationary one, as the RCMP had agreed to implement changes in six basic areas of the enhanced policing agreement. Council will be checking in regularly with staff to make sure the RCMP follows through on these changes.
CAO Doug Henderson revealed to council that he and other staff members had met with S-Sgt. Sean Maxwell and Sgt. Chris Zanidean of the Redcliff detachment to flesh out specifics of what the enhanced policing agreement between the RCMP and Cypress County would look like in 2016/2017.
As discussed at the previous council meeting, the enhanced officer position would be moved under the direct supervision of the detachment commander (Maxwell). The County Mountie’s shift schedule would officially include more evening and weekends, as well as special events coverage in the county. More after-hour bylaw response and enforcement was also part of it, backed up more often by other members of the Redcliff detachment. The majority of traffic enforcement the County Mountie would do will now be on county-maintained roads.
The RCMP also agreed to sign just a one year agreement with Cypress County, and the County Mountie will no longer be responsible for checking for overweight vehicles as a high priority of his or her duties.
Coun. LeRay Pahl asked Henderson if he was satisfied with what he had heard from the Redcliff RCMP commanders. Henderson affirmed he was, and all that was left was for council to sign on the dotted line.
“They seemed very confident in making this happen,” Henderson told councillors. “The switchover from traffic to detachment (control) might be a little bit slower because that is just how it is in the RCMP.”
Coun. Garry Lentz then moved that council accept the one year agreement with extra stipulations included. Coun. Dan Hamilton, who admitted to previously being an opponent of retaining the County Mountie position, summarized the position of skeptical wing of council.
“For somebody who was against (keeping) it originally, I think we are doing the right thing for our ratepayers by giving it one more chance and seeing what happens,” he said. “It’s one year. If they don’t do what they say by the end of the year, which way to go we’ll probably argue about again next year.”
Council then voted unanimously to retain the enhanced officer position for another year.