Two of the biggest issues surrounding policing in the county over the last year are being addressed.
Ponoka RCMP Sgt. Chris Smiley appeared at Ponoka County’s council meeting March 12 for his quarterly presentation and reported that staffing issues top of mind in 2018 are starting to resolve themselves, while crime prevention initiatives are also beginning to show results.
Smiley noted that the Ponoka detachment now only has two open constable postings, as opposed to as many as six at times in 2018. He added that the school resources officer the county helps pay for was filled last month
However, he stated that the general investigation service position the county also helps fund is empty once again, but only for about two more months as the officer assists in training a new cadet.
As for the crime statistics, Smiley explained that the overall criminal code incidents in the county are down by about five percent in 2018 — to 482 — compared to 2017 at 506.
The bulk of the reduction was seen in two areas that were an emphasis for the detachment as well as the entire central region of Alberta — theft of vehicles, plus break and enters.
There were 35 reported stolen vehicles last year compared to 52 in 2017, while there were 66 break and enter reports in 2018 as opposed to 89 the previous year.
“Overall, the trend on many of the main crime categories is moving down. We are going to keep doing what we have been doing. It has shown some success and I’m excited that our staffing numbers are getting back up,” he added.
One program curbing repeat criminal activity is monitoring those under conditions of release — either on probation or having been let out on bail pending resolution of their case.
“There is obviously some frustration among the public with what is perceived to be a revolving door, so we have been working with probation to know who is on certain conditions — but especially curfews or having to stay away from certain establishments or product consumption,” he stated.
“We really see the value in this work being done — given most of these offenders are responsible for a majority of crimes in the area.”
Smiley’s hope is to continue that trend by focusing once again on crime reduction strategies in the county this next 12 months, while also keeping up with greater levels of traffic enforcement since manpower at the detachment is coming back to full service levels.