An RCMP officer conducts a traffic stop in the No Frills parking lot in Ponoka on July 1. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)

An RCMP officer conducts a traffic stop in the No Frills parking lot in Ponoka on July 1. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)

Ponoka RCMP releases Stampede crime statistics

Local police officials say they were pleased with a comparatively low incidence of crime during this year’s Ponoka Stampede.

Ponoka RCMP has released the crime stats for the week of the Stampede (June 26 to July 2).

Overall, there were 279 calls for service (up 15 from 2022), but Cst. Myron Lemke said members of the detachment were, “Definitely happy with how this year went.

“This would be considered ‘light’ in relation to other years,” he said.

A bolstered police presence on the grounds was key to helping keep things under control, he said.

“This year, both us and the security at the Ponoka Stampede really stepped up the security onsite to make sure that we always had a visible presence,” he said.

“To let people know that we were there, and we were watching.

“We also made it clear to our members that there would always be someone there — and we had the sufficient staffing levels to handle the influx of calls that naturally come with a large event and the additional people coming to the community.”

Some years have proven more troublesome.

There have been various incidents from time to time of a more serious nature including some violent acts such as bear spraying incidents, for example.

This year saw six assaults, one assault with a weapon (not on Stampede grounds), and four missing person reports which were all concluded (one was unfounded, which means that the incident in question didn’t actually occur).

Police also received 18 calls regarding the causing of a disturbance, 12 calls for mischief (property damage and interfering with lawful enjoyment of property), and four public mischief calls.

“The majority of the calls about disturbances were in the morning — we had people passed out in the ditches or in the parks,” he said, adding that most of the time, people call the police in these cases out of concern for the individual.

“In some cases, they are so heavily intoxicated that we need to hold them in custody until they are safe to be out on their own,” he explained.

Altogether, seven thefts were reported including a car (turned out to be unfounded) and a truck, and there was one report of a concealed weapon.

In that case, RCMP were dispatched to a third-party report regarding a man carrying a firearm.

RCMP located the man and help from Police Dog Services led to the location of a replica firearm which had been discarded by the suspect.

Charges were laid and are currently before the courts.

As to other incidents during Stampede week, eight impaired driving charges were laid, along with four alcohol-related roadside suspensions.

One break-and-enter was reported as well.

Altogether, 42 prisoners were lodged in cells — up from 10 in 2022 — and eight tickets were issued for various provincial offences.

“It’s a wide range (of situations), including people who may just have partied a little too hard,” he noted of the 42.

There was one licence plate offence (driving without a valid plate), one seatbelt offence, three speeding offences and two ‘failure to provide documents’ incidents (insurance and registration).

Sixteen warnings were also handed out for various provincial offences.

All tickets and warnings were issued by local police for the municipality and Ponoka County.

According to a release, these numbers do not include any tickets written by the Traffic Unit during this time frame, which handed out 63 tickets and 15 warning tickets.