Crime has gone down by 15 per cent and the credit goes to the public.
Bashaw RCMP Sgt. Bruce Holliday says that 2019 crime statistics are down across the board compared to the previous year and it’s due to several factors.
“Having a fully-staffed detachment, after a couple of years of leaves and transfers leaving spots open, is one thing leading to these numbers,” he said in an interview March 11.
“However, the credit also must go to the vigilant members of the public, our rural crime watch members and industry partners with their commitment to reporting suspicious people and vehicles.
“Having these calls come in quickly has allowed for a prompt and efficient police response to incidents, which definitely has contributed to our success.”
Holliday added that reporting of suspicious vehicles and people has skyrocketed 350 per cent in the last five years, another factor in deterring crime as criminals know they are being watched.
There were three high profile incidents last year, where calls from the public assisted in locating the suspects.
The first was the arrests of Garnet Benn and Ryan Wraight, who are accused of the robberies last March of stores in Mirror, Alix and Pine Lake. Next was the arrest of Michael Richter who is facing charges from the armed robbery of the Alix ATB in December, and lastly, the apprehension back in December of Nicholas Klinck on charges of theft and possession of stolen vehicles and property from various residences in central Alberta.
Every statistical category has seen a decline compared to 2018: crimes against persons decreased 11 per cent, property crimes are down 15 per cent, other criminal code charges decreased 19 per cent, break and enters are down 16 per cent, motor vehicle thefts decreased five per cent and theft under $5,000 is down a huge 33 per cent. All of these statistics were shared with representatives from the towns of Bashaw and Alix plus the counties of Stettler, Lacombe and Camrose at a community consultation meeting on Feb. 26.
Holliday also discussed the staffing situation, which will see another officer on the scene soon.
“We are fully staffed — four constables and two support staff — and will add a recruit in April,” he said.
“The recruit will have six months of field training and, when that’s complete, will take the spot that will come open with the transfer of a senior constable. This is all part of the detachment being proactive in our succession planning.”
The 2020 performance plan for the detachment includes working to drop crime a further seven per cent and increasing the clearance rate by 26 per cent.
Holliday is hoping a new focus on having landlords in the region performing diligent vetting of prospective tenants will help.
“Some are not doing due diligence and this is about placing the onus back on them and being responsible if police continue to receive calls about the properties,” he said.
“It should not be up to the rest of the community or the RCMP to pay for that.”
He is working on doing some educational awareness to speak about best practices, what is allowed and what responsibilities landlords have.
“Once we can provide that, if issues continue then there are other means — such as fire and health inspections — that may be used as a remedy,” he said.
One other project Holliday has been a part of is the formation of the Alix-Mirror Wellness Centre.
The centre, which will be set up in the former Moonwalkers building, is being fashioned after the Bashaw Community Wellness team and its programming.
“We were approached by the mayor and CAO of Alix about helping to set up a similar service in their community. A presentation was made Feb. 17 to their council and the town has supported this through the use of the building,” Holliday said.
“The hope is that services similar to what is being done in Bashaw — referrals to mental health and addictions counselling, school outreach and other supports that are necessary — will soon be up and running in the community.”