From January to December 2020, there was a “significant decrease” in crime in Slave Lake, says Slave Lake RCMP Sgt. Don Racette. The Town of Slave Lake had an overall decrease of 27 per cent. The M.D. of Lesser Slave River decreased by 15 per cent.
Crimes fall into three major categories: persons, property, and other. Sgt. Racette provided statistics for all crimes (see chart).
In Slave Lake, persons crime decreased by three per cent, property by 20 per cent, and other by 50 per cent. Within property crime, theft under $5,000 decreased by 32 per cent and theft of a motor vehicle by 18.
In the M.D., there was an increase in persons crimes (11 per cent), but a decrease in property (28 per cent) and other (seven per cent).
Sgt. Racette gave three possible reasons for the decrease.
First, many prolific offenders were in custody.
Second, persons crimes such as assault, and other crimes like disturbing the peace, often happen late at night at bars or gaming establishments. With COVID, these were closed for much of the year.
Third, in 2019, some of the crimes may have been charged in the wrong category.
“We’re a junior detachment,” he says. Young police officers are still learning, so may charge someone sleeping in a bank with disturbing the peace, when it should just be a bylaw ticket.
Homicides include manslaughter and first and second degree murder.
In 2020, there were two homicides in Slave Lake. This is one more than in 2019.
On May 17, 2020, Christopher Valiquette of Swan River First Nation was killed in Slave Lake, says May 19, 2020 Leader article. A 32-year-old from High Prairie was charged with second degree murder.
The 32-year-old is scheduled to have a preliminary inquiry in Slave Lake Provincial Court from June 16 to 18, 2021.
In the M.D., there were no homicides in 2020. There was one in 2019.
In September 2020, the RCMP arrested a 24-year-old man for a 2019 M.D. homicide, says an RCMP news release. The victim was Darren Dawson (30). His body was found in a wildfire near Wagner on May 31, 2019.
The 24-year-old man is in custody. His next court date is January 27, 2021 in Slave Lake Provincial Court. He is charged with second degree murder and arson.
There was no arson in the M.D. in 2020, but there were two cases in 2019. The other 2019 arson was the fires near Hwy. 754 near Wabasca, which started the largest wildfire in the history of the Slave Lake Forest Area.
“The investigation is still ongoing,” says Leah Lovequist, Wildfire Information Officer. People with information to help the investigation call 1-833-999-FIRE.