Residents of Plum Coulee will continue to see Altona police officers working in the community for another two years.
The Town of Altona and Municipality of Rhineland have extended a policing agreement that's been in place since 2008 after the province gave the nod earlier this year.
"Obviously the police service is very happy that local government has come together and allowed us to continue policing in Plum Coulee," said Perry Batchelor, Chief of Police for the Altona Police Service. "As I've always said, it's nothing but a win-win situation."
Among the benefits this deal has had over the years according to Batchelor, is the addition of another officer which brought the Altona police contingent to 8.
"We can do a better job with more boots on the ground one-hundred percent," he said, adding this results in not only better coverage, quality of life and safety for citizens but improved quality of life and officer retention for members of the police service.
Batchelor adds it is these extra human resources that have allowed the Altona Police Service to bring a proactive policing approach Plum Coulee through various school programs and bike rodeos, as well as sponsored road watch initiatives.
While the added officer was funded with federal dollars at first, the tap went dry after only 3 years. Since then, the cost has been covered initially by the Town of Plum Coulee and then the L.U.D. of Plum Coulee through the Municipality of Rhineland following amalgamation, as well as the Province of Manitoba.
Costs of the renewed agreement are estimated at $147,800 in 2020 and $150,469 in 2021. The province will pitch in $101,600 in each of the two years with the balance offset through contributions from the L.U.D. totalling $46,200 in 2020 and 48,869 in 2021.
Batchelor is grateful to the provincial government for continuing to support this agreement and is hopeful its portion of the funding will continue beyond the next two years.
Meantime, Batchelor says for his team, the job begins with earning trust through hard work and proving they can get the job done.
He explains the department has handled a number of high-level files in Plum Coulee since it began working there 11 years ago. This list includes a murder, sexual assaults including minors, and significant break and enters into businesses.
"I can tell you that all of the files of a violent nature have been cleared by our police service and, in some cases, with the help of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Major Crimes Unit," said Batchelor.
As far as the future role of the Altona Police Service in Plum Coulee, the Chief says staying the course and remaining status quo isn't in his nature, noting he is always looking for ways the department can improve. Batchelor encourages members of the public to bring their ideas and suggestions to the Altona Police Board of which Plum Coulee does have a representative.
Meantime, Rhineland reeve, Don Wiebe, is also pleased with the contract extension.
"We worked hard for that. We thought this was a good arrangement for Plum Coulee and we lobbied hard to get an extension," he said.
"For the next two years we can have stabilized service, service the community has come to appreciate and respect," added Wiebe.
Altona mayor, Al Friesen, shares that enthusiasm. He says this is another example of the Town's relationship with the neighbouring municipality.
"This is about a relationship, a relationship that has proven itself for the community of Plum Coulee in a positive way," he added, noting he took time at Saturday's Altona Police Service centennial celebration to thank Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen in person for allowing the partnership between Altona and Rhineland to continue in this way.