Property crimes up in town, down in the M.D.

Joe McWilliams

Lakeside Leader

Due to technical difficulties, the Aug. 30 ‘RCMP With Mayor Town Hall’ put on by the Town of Slave Lake was not a great success. Streamed live on social media, it was difficult to hear what people were saying.

However, here’s some of what we were able to glean from the 45-minute session.

Police visibility, reducing property crime and traffic continue to be areas of focus for the Slave Lake RCMP. These are priorities arrived at through consultation with the municipal council.

And how’s it going? Based on the number of property crimes in the past year – pretty good in the M.D. and not as good in town.

Acting detachment commander Sgt. Casey Bruyns started off by saying property crime files were down 40 per cent in the M.D. in the most recent statistical year, but up 16 per cent in Slave Lake. Crimes against persons were down, however.

“It’s a balancing act for us,” Bruyns said.

When it comes to the special rural crime prevention teams that that province put in place a few years ago, Bruyns said the Slave Lake area could benefit from the Eastern Alberta Crime Reduction Team, but not just because it exists.

“We have to generate targets for them,” he said.

Bad sound didn’t affect the online questions, of which there were a few. But the answers were tough to make out.

One of them had to do with how local businesses can be better supported in their struggles with break-ins. Bruyns said something about measures that can be taken to reduce the risk, but most of it was inaudible.

Another written online question – or more of a statement – was from someone who thinks police should spend more time stopping “individuals on bikes with bags” at night, and not stopping people who are merely driving their kids to and from school or going to or from work.

The suggestion was that RCMP can’t stop the bad guys without just cause, but that doesn’t prevent them from pulling over regular law-abiding folks.

“We do stop them,” said Bruyns. “It is a regular thing.”

Another question was about a victim compensation fund, and how to get access to it. Nobody seemed to know about it.

The matter of slow response times came up. If it’s an emergency, call 911. If not, 780-849-3045 will get answered 24/7, Bruyns said. The questioner said she’d tried that and been put on hold for “well over an hour.”

Project Capture came up. This is the program where willing owners of surveillance cameras register with the RCMP. Police still have to ask if they can see footage, but it can save them time in an investigation. Bruyns said he doesn’t know the number of participants locally, but “the program is expanding.”

Somebody asked about Citizens On Patrol. Mayor Frankie Ward said there had been quite a bit of interest expressed, but not enough people willing to participate.

“It’s tough to get volunteers,” she said.

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