File photo

Ponoka County renews deal for enhanced RCMP positions

School Resource, GIS positions get three more years of funding

Despite the looming changes to how Ponoka County will be charged for policing services, council approved renewing its agreement to fund two enhanced positions at the Ponoka RCMP detachment.

The unanimous vote came at council’s Dec. 10 meeting, where Ponoka’s Staff Sgt. Chris Smiley was on hand to present the police services’ quarterly report for the county.

After hearing from CAO Charlie Cutforth that the recent provincial government announcement provided details that the county will receive credit for their payments to the enhanced positions, meaning the county’s four-year policing costs will only increase by about $200,000 as opposed to almost $500,000 without it.

Coun. Mark Matejka did question whether the two positions have benefited or generated some value for the county and Smiley put forth an emphatic yes.

“Having these two enhanced positions available one year ago absolutely saved us when our detachment was at 50 per cent of our staffing levels,” he told council.

“We were able to make adjustments to those extra enhanced positions, putting them on regular shifts and that helped keep us afloat. And without these positions, we would not have a School Resource Officer. I’ve been in many meetings with the school division and they want that to keep going no matter what.”

Crime down

Smiley also informed council that overall crime statistics are down within the detachment’s coverage area in the county.

For the period from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, overall criminal code offences fell by 22 per cent when compared to the same time frame in 2018.

“Crimes are down across the board,” he said.

“Although one category — “other” criminal code — has increased 69 per cent. However, there are a couple of different things this covers: court order breaches and failure to comply or appear. A lot of this relates to our officers aggressively targeting those prolific offenders and monitoring their release conditions.

“Overall, the numbers are really good and really reflect the trend across K Division.”

The spike comes specifically in the failure to comply and breaches category, up a whopping 163 per cent — 71 so far this year compared to last year’s 27. There is also a jump in disturbing the peace calls, up to 14 from eight.

And those particular statistics are due, in part, to the revolving door of the justice system as it is getting increasingly difficult to have repeat criminals held in custody.

“We see the same people over and over, but it is has proven difficult to have people held,” said Smiley.

Federal legislative changes, made through Bill C-75, takes affect on Dec. 18 and will make attempts to get suspects remanded even tougher.

“It’s going to get even more challenging as the bill lays out a progressive series of steps before an accused is held in custody, with bail being the default unless there are exceptional circumstances,” he said.

“It starts out with the least intrusive conditions to bail for offenders and then works its way up. Also in the bill is determining the conditions an accused can abide by, meaning if alcohol is typically a problem there would normally be no alcohol condition. But now, if an accused says they can abstain, that won’t be a condition of their release.”

Reeve Paul McLauchlin lauded the efforts of the local RCMP, while tossing a jab at how justice is being administered.

“It looks to me that the biggest concern isn’t the hard work that police are doing, but it really is tied back to the courts and some of the federal legislation that is changing how we treat criminals,” he said.

Statistics

Meanwhile, total property crimes reported over the past 11 months hit 199 compared to 339 last year, a drop of 41 per cent.

This includes 36 fewer thefts under $5,000 (down 48 per cent), six fewer vehicle thefts (decrease of 17 per cent, 12 less break and enters (down 20 per cent) and 59 fewer mischief to property (drop of 65 per cent).

Crimes against people in the county are down slightly, about five per cent.

These include a decrease from 10 to five instances of uttering threats, a drop to one from four robbery incidents, but an increase in harassment incidents (from five to nine) and assaults (up to 25 from 23).

Reports of suspicious vehicles and people is also down slightly at 52 versus 65 last year.

In addition, vehicle collisions are also down 25 per cent from 2018 (255 compared to 341) with injury collisions down to 21 from 31. However, fatal collisions sit at six, up from five.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pair of local rinks take Town and Country titles

Ponoka Curling Club’s Town and Country bonspiel held Jan. 21-25

Four more arrested in Ponoka RCMP battle against drugs

Several individuals known to police facing more charges

Ponoka Police Advisory Committee information night sees good turnout

Information night was held Jan. 20 in town council chambers

2019 Ponoka Festival of Trees meets $100,000 goal

Ponoka hospital will begin purchasing heart monitoring cubes

Supporting a friend with mental health issues

AHS: Do you have a friend who just doesn’t seem to be their usual self?

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

UPDATE: Sylvan Lake RCMP say missing female located

19-year-old Alyssa Manderville was last seen in Blackfalds on Jan. 26

Ryan Jake Applegarth, 27, charged with First Degree Murder

RCMP Major Crimes Unit seeking male wanted on first degree murder charge

Watch out for scams, clickbait in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death: Better Business Bureau

Kobe Bryant and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles

Despite reports of decline, birds flocking to national parks in Canadian Rockies

Recent studies suggest overall bird population has slid by three billion since 1970

Pregnant B.C. woman stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak

Woman is due to give birth in Wuhan, China unless she can get out

Majority of Canadian boards had no female members in 2016 and 2017: StatCan

Statistics Canada says 18.1 per cent of director seats were held by women in 2017

VAUGHAN: Childhood heroes like Kobe are supposed to be immortal

Kobe Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of nine people

Most Read