Ponoka RCMP updates council on crime stats, performance plan

Sgt. Chris Smiley, acting commander of the Ponoka RCMP detachment, gave a report to town council during its regular meeting May 14.

His report included the detachment’s 2019 performance plan and quarterly crime stats, from January to April 2019, with stats from the same months going back to 2014 for comparison. All categories contain attempted and completed offences.

Town crime stats

In 2019, between January and April, there were three incidents under the category of kidnapping/hostage/abduction (which related to domestic instances of confinement).

There were 11 cases of criminal harassment, 24 cases of uttering threats, 50 assault cases, zero robberies and five sexual assaults (down from seven last year but up from just one in 2017).

There have been no homicides in the Ponoka municipal detachment during those months from 2014 to 2019.

There were 28 break and enters, 17 thefts of a motor vehicle, one case of theft over $5,000 and 46 cases of theft under $5,000.

Mischief of property from January to April dropped 14 per cent with 49 cases in 2019 and 57 in 2018.

Total criminal code violations were 403, a decrease of nine per cent from 2018.

There have been no cases of arson in Ponoka so far this year, when at this time last year, there had already been five.

Since the start of this year, there have been two incidents of drug trafficking, down from five during the same months last year. There was a total of three cannabis-related incidents.

There were a total of 44 motor vehicle collisions where damage to vehicles was involved, with zero fatalities within town.

With 63 cases in town of reported spousal abuse from January to April, there was a slight increase from this time last year of five per cent.

Rural crime stats

There were zero completed or attempted robberies reported in rural Ponoka in the first four months of 2019.

Four assaults were reported, down from nine at this time last year, and two sexual assaults.

Break and enters were down to 12 incidents from 19 in the same months in 2018, and there were 10 thefts of motor vehicles, 20 thefts under $5,000 and six possession of stolen goods.

Mischief of property saw a decline of 87 per cent in this quarter from the first quarter in 2018, from 46 incidents down to six.

There was a total of 97 criminal code violations.

Performance plan

The RCMP’s annual performance plan includes its targets and proactive measures for the year. The priorities were identified through public consultation and speaking with citizens on the street.

Key complaints were about traffic enforcement and crime reduction.

“We take the feedback seriously,” said Smiley.

Smiley says his detachment has shown resiliency over the past year as they’ve been understaffed. The situation has improved, with some cadets being added to the detachment, and another cadet expected by the fall, but the detachment is still short two constables positions.

Traffic enforcement had fallen during the months they were shorthanded, but Smiley says is now a priority to step that up again.

“Pro-active traffic enforcement is one of the things that will be put on the back burner (when short-staffed).”

Traffic enforcement is about reducing impaired driving, not just about issuing tickets, says Smiley.

Other internal issues the detachment is looking at is the handling of missing persons files and employee wellness and mental health.

The detachment has seen an increase of 70 per cent in missing persons cases this quarter where the people are not being abducted, but walking away from care.

“We know what’s happening.”

Each case can take five man-hours easily, he says.

Last month, Province-wide, the RCMP started taking a “candid look” at missing persons cases.

Division-wide, the RCMP is pushing back on group homes, he says, adding that in a lot of cases they aren’t actually missing, but may just be visiting friends.

High-risk youth who are reported missing will continue to receive a “full-blown” missing persons response.

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