There have been 61 assaults in Slave Lake so far this year. That was one of the rather startling statistics RCMP Staff Sgt. John Spaans shared with town council last week. In 2017 there were 200 assaults on the books of the local detachment.
Incidents of mischief seem to be up as well in 2018, with 151 reported in the year’s first three months. There were 499 of these in all of 2017. They include the very common complaints about drunks and homeless people.
“It’s a daily grind,” Spaans said. “We were finding a lot of people passed out in bathrooms, foyers, public spaces.”
As for breaking and entering, the RCMP has responded to 22 incidents so far this year. All of last year saw 74.
“Generally speaking, we know who is doing these crimes,” he said.
Theft of vehicles is up. Twelve last month, Spaans said. A fair number of these were from hotel parking lots, some with the keys in them.
“It’s no secret Ford F150s are very easily stolen,” he said.
Some of the vehicles have been recovered – in such places as Swan Hills, Grande Prairie and Edmonton, suggesting they were stolen simply as a means of getting somewhere.
Spaans also listed the detachment’s priorities for the year. They are crime reduction, traffic safety, community visibility/involvement and employee wellness.
On the first point, Spaans said a strategy of paying close attention to known repeat offenders has paid some dividends. Some of the seven people mentioned above are now cooling their heels behind bars, he said, and because of it the number of incidents has dropped. As soon as they are out, “we’ll be knocking on their doors again.”
Spaans also spoke of a new concept in tackling what he called “larger-scale offenders,” such as those who commit robberies or ATM thefts across a broad region. The proposal, which had just come in to him that afternoon, was for local GIS (general investigation section) members to become members of a larger team that could be called on to work in other areas.
“I would not support sending those people out of the community if our municipality has to pay for it,” said mayor Tyler Warman.
Asked about training for detecting impairment by cannabis, Spaans said so far only one member has received it, but the plan overall is to have 80 per cent of officers trained by 2019.