Council began part of their regular meeting on Tues. Feb. 9 with a presentation from Cpl. David Searle of the Hanna RCMP Detachment.
Cpl. Searle has taken over temporarily for Sgt. Sperlie as he is off work due to an injury.
Const. Eliason Bernard was introduced as the newest member of the detachment.
He shared that he has been in Hanna for two months and found there were many differences between his upbringing in Langford, B.C. to rural Alberta where ‘there weren’t any -40C days like there is here’.
So far, he has enjoyed working with the detachment, learning the ropes of policing in the rural area surrounding Hanna.
Cpl. Searle presented a few statistics comparing the 2020 year to 2019, finding a few differences between them.
These numbers relate to the entire Hanna detachment coverage area which includes Special Areas and Craigmyle.
Total criminal code offences were down two per cent overall; 25 per cent down in persons crimes, an eight per cent hike in property crimes such as break and enters and a four per cent increase in other offences such as weapons offences, breaking release conditions and more.
There have been 23 fewer instances in break and enters and two fewer instances of motor vehicle theft.
On the other hand, there was a 73 per cent increase in theft under $5,000 at 22 more instances (52 calls for service in total).
The Corporal dug through more statistics and files to see why this was, determining it was a rash of vehicle break and enters over the summer.
He further explained these were often crimes of opportunity where vehicles were left open with valuable belongings such as wallets and cellphones visible inside.
As for Person Crimes such as sexual assaults, uttering threats, these calls were down 23 per cent from 2019 and over the past five years, this number has dropped 50 per cent.
“Those are really good numbers to see,” said Cpl. Searle.
Fraud cases were reported 31 times in 2020 which was a 63 per cent increase.
Fifteen of those calls were attempted telephone scams with only one person falling victim to this from the area.
“It’s a good snapshot of what is going on,” he said. “We all know there is a lot more of those calls being made; they are just not reported.”
The corporal added that even he received at least a call a day from scammers for a week.
Disturbing the peace calls where loud parties, bar fights, arguments and typically non-criminal code offences were up with 21 calls made last year.
For drug-related files such as possession and trafficking, was also an increase. Cpl. Searle pointed out that this is an indication of police work in action as they often generate these files themselves rather than hearing tips or complaints from the public.
Mayor Chris Warwick asked the corporal if any of these numbers related to people who possessed too much cannabis but he said no charges had been laid for this.
Mental health has become a large theme of 2020. Cpl. Searle shared that these cases have gone up 43 per cent.
“To me, that was to be expected. That was a rough year I think for everybody and I would say those numbers are going to be typical across Canada,” he said.
As for detachment specifics, the Hanna branch has one extra member ‘which is great’ and are expecting another new recruit in March.
“If we end up losing a member to transfer we won’t be down any members,” he said.
Rural crime remains a priority for the detachment as they continue to have biweekly intelligence meetings with the Southern Alberta District Rural Crime Unit and communications with the local rural crime watch to develop better means of intelligence sharing.
Crime mapping will be a new form of public information as the town, Special Areas and the RCMP have been collaborating to make this happen.
The map will act as a snapshot of crime in that area that includes theft, stolen cars and break and enters.
“For people concerned with privacy it’s not actually on the map showing where exactly the crime has occurred. It’s to the nearest intersection. It’s going to give the residents within town and around the county a better idea of what is going on around them in respect to crime trends.”
Coun. Sandra Beaudoin mentioned the Sheerness Coal Mine is doing a shutdown soon and wondered about police presence around hotels regarding this.
“There is usually tools stolen out of trucks,” she said. “It really reflects badly on our community. I feel bad for those people and they are working long hours to come home and then realize some of their equipment is missing.”
The corporal said this is good information to have to be proactive and that they will take it into account.