Property crimes in 2015 proved to be a big year.
Ponoka municipal RCMP statistics from 2011 to 2015 were presented to town council Sept. 13 with RCMP Staff Sgt. Mike Numan highlighting some of the details.
Also provided were charges laid by the Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit — a combination of Sheriff and RCMP members who patrol the Highway 2 corridor — from April 1 to June 30 for this year. Numbers also show how busy Mounties were during the 2015 and 2016 Ponoka Stampede weeks.
Total property crimes for 2015 sit at 827, compared to the next highest of 555 for 2012, explained Numan. Total criminal code charges for 2015 show 1,806, with 2012 being the next highest at 1,420.
Numan suggests this increase, largely in property crimes, may be due to the downturn in the economy.
“Where people are looking, perhaps for cash for reasons, either for paying off debt or drugs or whatever else,” explained Numan.
Assaults are up — 189 for 2015, up from 119 in 2014— but not as high as with property crimes. Sexual assaults increased to 12 in 2015, up from eight in 2014. Kidnapping or hostage or abduction cases stayed about the same with five in 2015 and six in 2014.
Drug charges are relatively static with a total of 41 for 2015 with the highest being 46 in 2012.
From April to the end of June the Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit, housed at the Ponoka detachment but under a different charge, is busy, largely issuing speeding tickets. Almost 700 were issued for the three months, with a smaller amount of tickets issued to motorists travelling more than 50 km/h over the posted speed limit.
While distracted driving tickets while using a cell phone aren’t quite 50 tickets, Numan says it is a large problem on the roadways. “It’s an epidemic that we do not have a handle on.”
He has found that motorists will use their phones while driving regardless of the risks. Numan says as soon as a driver sees a police unit, they put their phones away.
“We’re lucky to have them and certainly don’t want to use them,” said Numan of the traffic unit.
False alarms, abandoned 911 calls and suspicious vehicle calls continue but where the RCMP find their time taken most is in the missing persons calls with 147 for 2015 compared to 84 in 2014. Despite the time-consuming nature of missing persons calls, Numan says the detachment takes them seriously with officers working to find missing people.
Ponoka Stampede numbers
Looking at Stampede 2016 compared to 2015, assault charges were down with six this year compared to 24 last year.
Break and enter charges increased to 15, up from three in 2015. Overall, however, the numbers were down and Numan attributes that to an increased RCMP presence. “We had designated members on the ground all the time.”
Persons crimes dropped to 13, compared to 28 in 2015. Likewise for disturbing the peace, weapons or breach charges with 20 this year compared to 62 last year. Property crimes went up, however, with 76 for 2016 compared to 41 in 2015.
Working with other groups
The detachment has Mounties who investigate rural calls that cover an area within Ponoka County.
Numan said he intends to bring quarterly updates to council and he is working with five specific groups collaborating with the Ponoka detachment: the Police Advisory Committee, Citizens on Patrol, Rural Crime Watch in Ponoka County, Ponoka Victim Services and youth engagement with the School Resource Officer program.
These groups will have a voice in the RCMP’s annual performance plan that is set each year.