In what is being called a first in Canada, community safety officers (CSO) in North Battleford, Sask., now have the authority to investigate certain low-risk crimes.
Under changes made to the Community Safety Officer program, CSOs in the Saskatchewan city will be able to investigate crimes like vandalism or theft under $5,000.
They will also be able to investigate reportable vehicle collisions within city limits if there are no injuries.
RCMP assistant commissioner Curtis Zablocki, commanding officer of “F” Division, said the changes will free police resources to allow officers to focus on more serious investigations or crimes-in-progress.
“By expanding CSO authority and having them take on some of the lower-level investigations, the RCMP will be able to target more serious criminal activity,” Zablocki said.
“This change will also allow us to be more responsive to the calls and concerns of those we serve.”
The North Battleford CSO program started in 2014 as part of the city’s response to rising crime rates.
“This is an integral part of the community safety strategy that was initiated by the city in early 2014 as the city has the dubious distinction of being ranked number one on the crime severity index of communities in Canada with populations over 10,000 residents,” North Battleford Mayor Ryan Bater said.
“We believed, and still believe, that a new innovative approach was required.”
There are currently seven CSOs in North Battleford.
Their duties including nine acts under the Police Act and enforcement of most city bylaws.
CSOs also work closely with RCMP to enhance community safety and security.