From 2012 to 2016 the Bashaw RCMP detachment has seen a 400 per cent increase overall in crime but their staffing levels haven’t changed.
Bashaw RCMP S/Sgt. Bruce Holliday provided Alix council, during their regular meeting Jan. 3, with statistics for their coverage area.
“I suggest 2017 (statistics) will be higher in most if not all categories,” said S/Sgt. Holiday. “I have seen these types of reports for all provincial detachments and Bashaw and Alix are not unique. This is what we are seeing provincially.”
In 2012 Bashaw RCMP had 160 calls for service and that number jumped to 1,600 in 2016.
There were 46 violent crimes in 2012 and 84 in 2016. A breakdown of some of these statistics shows that there were 18 break and enters in 2012 and 70 in 2016; nine vehicle thefts in 2012 and 59 in 2016; and 44 thefts under $5,000 in 2012 and 121 in 2016.
In 2016, in a one month span the Alix hotel was robbed twice, a man was attacked with a machete during a home invasion and Bashaw RCMP fatally shot a suspected thief south of Alix in a rural area.
But S/Sgt. Holiday said, “It’s not all doom and gloom because we have a plan. We have a number of initiatives.”
One initiative involves increased visibility with Bashaw RCMP officers attending all businesses within their jurisdiction as well as talking to the people.
“It’s stepping back in time in what community policing used to be and is an important aspect. In rural communities it’s important.”
The Bashaw detachment, however, needs the public’s help.
“I only have so many members so I need the community’s help to prevent crime, to solve crime and investigate crime because we can’t do it on our own.”
The detachment will collect information about the businesses at risk.
“In my experience if there are VLT’s at a business you are at a higher risk for armed robbery. Second thing is ATM’s.”
In a second initiative, Bashaw RCMP will work with businesses educating them about robbery prevention and best practices.
RCMP will also, on Google, map out all businesses that have closed-circuit television cameras to quickly obtain footage in the event of a robbery.
“The planning we do prior to (an incident) is important,” said S/Sgt. Holliday.
Residents, however, are also part of the solution.
People are too trusting and leave keys in vehicles and don’t lock doors of homes.
“The bad guys from Red Deer, Edmonton and Camrose, they come to the rural community and know that F150 has keys in it.”
We can’t do that anymore.”
The third initiative is better handling of mental health calls.
S/Sgt. Holiday said they are working with Alberta Health Services to create a proactive referral service.
“If I’m able to help these folks get the help they need, because the Bashaw RCMP are not equipped to deal with it but need help to deal with it, engaging these folks allows us to do more policing because we’re not dealing with mental health.”
Peace officer addresses council
Mark Sproule, Senior Community Peace Officer for Lacombe County told council on Jan. 3 that all residents in Alix area residing in Lacombe County will be eligible to have a county inspector attend their home free of charge to evaluate their risks for break and enters and provide solutions to address any issues.
The inspectors would check lighting, any trees or vegetation criminals could hide in, check door locks and windows.
“What element can you change to prevent you from being a victim of crime?” said Sproule.
Lacombe County dealt with 92 issues in Alix from October to December 2016.
“Speeding takes up a big chunk, 47 of the 92,” said Sproule.
Cemetery bylaw change
Council gave third and final reading to a bylaw that allows one full burial and four cremation urns, up from the previous one full burial and two cremation urns.