Ponoka RCMP held a town hall meeting Nov. 21, at the Ponoka Civic Centre to share their policing priorities, present 2022 local crime statistics and talk about two new programs rolling out.
Sgt. Erin St-Cyr, who took over as acting detachment commander on Nov. 1, introduced herself to start things off.
St-Cyr was born and raised in Nova Scotia and is a second generation police officer.
She started her career with the RCMP in Manitoba, serving there for five years before being posted in New Brunswick.
She had a stint training cadets at the RCMP academy in Regina before coming to Alberta two-and-a-half years ago.
Also presenting was Cpl. Mike Dillon, who is from Ponoka. He’s previously been an EMS and a firefighter before joining the RCMP.
The three priorities in the detachment’s Annual Performance Plan (APP) are traffic safety, enhancing public confidence and crime reduction through the continuous monitoring of prolific offenders.
Dillon said the Ponoka RCMP have a good relationship with probation officers in Wetaskiwin who keep the detachment informed when offenders are released in their area.
Last week, Ponoka members apprehended two offenders in breach of their conditions and they are now back in jail, he said.
The detachment aims to build public confidence through community engagement, high visibility patrols and theft prevention sessions focused on fraud, identity theft and cyber security.
Ponoka has now also become involved in the Regional Police and Crisis Teams (RPACT) program, that teams health care professionals with police to response to mental health calls for service.
The Ponoka detachment has been partnered with a nurse based in Wetaskiwin, who is trained at a high level to respond to people in a mental health crisis.
St-Cyr said while they weren’t happy to see Staff Sgt. Chris Smiley move on, that with him leading RPACT provincially, they found the right person for the job.
“He’s definitely well-prepared for that role,” said St-Cyr.
Training for the new Health IM app will be rolling out in January, 2023.
Use of the software will give members responding to mental health calls an additional resource to use at their discretion when it’s safe to do so.
The software is a four-to-five minute risk assessment screening based on observable evidence of symptoms.
Ponoka has also been selected as the next community to participate in the Data 2 Action, an evidence-based intelligence-led threat identification that leads to actionable tasks.
St-Cyr said she would be meeting with the data analysts on Nov. 22, as the first step in launching the program in Ponoka.
St-Cyr said she was also interested in introducing another program, Crime Capture, in Ponoka.
The program, already in use in Innisfail, Blackfalds, Sylvan Lake and Rocky Mountain House, allows citizens to register security cameras on their property with the RCMP so video footage can be used to combat crime.
“I’m in the infancy stages of exploring that,” said St-Cyr.
The Alberta RCMP now has free online crime reporting tool, where users can report theft or vandalism under the value of $5,000, either through a website or by downloading the free app.
Dillon said if there is no time delay issue, less urgent crimes such as graffiti or mischief can be reported through the app, otherwise Ponoka RCMP members are always on site at the detachment to respond to issues.
Other features on the app include crime stats from any area in Alberta.
Town of Ponoka Coun. Ted Dillon also spoke about the role of the Police Advisory Committee and Community Peace Officer Wes Allison was introduced.