Kneehill County council heard that one of its RCMP detachments has made great strides in reducing property crime but have seen an increase in crimes against persons. The report was made at the Feb. 28 regular meeting of council.
Three Hills detachment commander S/Sgt. Jamie Day updated council on police activities in 2022, along with a chance for them to give input on the annual performance plan (APP).
Day began his presentation by noting one member of the detachment, Cst. Matt Nyman has focused much of his energy on reducing rural crime and the community is reaping the rewards.
S/Sgt. Day stated Nyman has hit the rural property crime area pretty hard and had a lot of positive results; Day noted some of the suspects who were subsequently convicted are still in jail.
Day moved on to discuss the APP, noting that previously this annual community roadmap for the Three Hills detachment called for increased attention in several areas, including mental health, road safety including impaired driving and crime prevention.
Looking back at 2022 S/Sgt. Day noted it was the busiest year the detachments had in the past five years. In fact, the number of calls so far in 2023 suggests the current year will be the busiest. Day didn’t think there was any more crime than usual, “I just think more people are reporting crime.”
He further reported the Three Hills detachment spent 40 per cent of its time in Kneehill County in 2022, and 31 per cent of its time in the Town of Three Hills. He noted towns like Trochu are included in Kneehill County.
As a result of that work RCMP have noticed the instances of property crime such as theft and break and enter going down in number, while persons crimes, such as assault, have increased.
The S/Sgt. stated it’s more difficult for police to help prevent persons crime because it’s difficult to predict where it will occur.
Overall, the Three Hills RCMP detachment answered 1,062 calls for service within Kneehill County in 2022.
The main categories for calls included criminal harassment, mental health, impaired driving which he observed there were five or six charges just in January alone, assault including both domestic and other, sexual assault and extortion.
The S/Sgt. stated he didn’t mind seeing higher call volumes because he takes that to mean that people trust the RCMP and know that if they call in a report then something will be done about it. Day added that he also felt that media exposure helped get information out to the public.
Day noted he is also grateful for strong community partnerships, including with the Three Hills Hospital, that help police handle calls such as those associated with the Mental Health Act (MHA). He noted those partnerships ensure people get the best possible help they need.
Reeve Jerry Wittstock asked if police have seen an increase in the number of gun-related crimes in Kneehill County. The S/Sgt. answered police do see guns involved in some crimes in Kneehill County but have not observed an increase.
Coun. Faye McGhee asked if Kneehill County is alone in seeing persons crimes increase. Day answered no, it seems to be happening across Alberta and some connections to mental health and job loss are suspected.
When asked about Three Hills losing its victim services office, Day stated he’s disappointed to see changes being made to the local victim services office and he’s worried it’s going to get bumped to the city because rural areas tend to get forgotten about.
Coun. Laura-Lee Machell-Cunningham stated she’s heard many people voice the same concerns.
She also commended Day on the Three Hills detachment’s visibility in the community which she said people are happy to see.
When Day asked councillors if they were happy with the APP priorities, they seemed to agree that they were.
Day pointed out the Three Hills detachment is also organizing a week-long RCMP camp this summer that will give Grade 7 to 10 youth a chance to learn about forensics, K-9, bomb squad and many other kinds of police work. It will be free of charge and will culminate in a grad ceremony.
The Three Hills detachment is also hoping to host a regimental ball next fall.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter