Crime in Ponoka is staying relatively stable while traffic enforcement has taken a hit in 2018.
Ponoka RCMP Sgt. Chris Smiley spoke to council at a recent meeting about Ponoka’s crime files. The update covered data for the eight month period from January to September of 2018.
Smiley pointed out that the number of stolen vehicle cases along with break and enters went up slightly over 2017 — with break-ins up nine to 41 and vehicle thefts up six to 54.
Files involving assaults, uttering threats and harassment though, have increased significantly. Assaults sit at 154, a jump of 46 over the same period last year, while harassment is at 34, an increase of 16. Uttering threats has more than doubled to 54 from the 22 in 2017.
Nearly all of those cases stem from domestic violence calls, Smiley noted, but the numbers make it appear more nefarious than it actually is.
“The thing about statistics is, it can tell us a lot of information,” he stated, “and every now and then, they are going to tell us the truth as well.”
For example, Smiley explained that a look at the kidnapping figure — five this year so far versus one over the same time in 2017 — shows a 500 per cent jump.
“That would be misleading. Every one of those files is domestic violence related and the actual charge was unlawful confinement,” he stated.
“That can mean something as big as refusing to allow someone out of a home for days or something as simple as not letting someone leave a room. I don’t want to minimize domestic violence, but the majority of these charges — assaults, threats and others — are on the lower end like a grab or a push. We do see some more serious in nature, but a few years ago police lost all discretion when it comes to laying charges related to domestic violence.”
Smiley also touched on another hot topic in Ponoka — proactive traffic enforcement.
“We are short four general duty members and overtime is also an issue,” Smiley stated.
The shortage is not unique to the detachment.
He referenced the work being done around the schools and along 57 Avenue as places where enforcement seems to be making the biggest difference.
“Most people like it, until it catches them. (Traffic enforcement) is a delicate balancing act,” Smiley added.