The mayor of the Village of Big Valley discussed with the community’s senior RCMP officer methods of “banishing” criminals or other troublemakers from the municipality.
The discussion was held at the Jan. 12 regular meeting of council.
Stettler RCMP detachment acting commander S/Sgt. Jon England, an 18 year veteran of the police force, appeared as a delegation before council to introduce himself as the interim commander of the detachment.
England explained S/Sgt. Bruce Holliday is not on duty right now and the RCMP asked England if he would come in and handle the Stettler detachment on short notice.
He informed council he accepted the position and took command on Dec. 7.
Mayor Dan Houle stated that in the past Big Valley has had “troublesome people” who grew up in the village and were “expelled” with a restraining order. As it turns out, noted the mayor, Big Valley continues to have problems with troublesome people who come to town periodically apparently to engage in criminal activity.
Houle stated he’s seen some of these people active at 6 a.m. in the morning which concerned him as that’s an unusual time for people to be active.
Houle went on to say he suspects these troublesome people are trying to set up in a house that has apparently been linked to crime or troublemakers in the past and the mayor said this concerns him as he wants to keep Big Valley safe.
S/Sgt. England noted a community has several options to address a residence or business suspected as being linked to criminal activities, including RCMP attention, community peace officers and even fire code inspections.
England stated that if there was a specific bylaw in place perhaps a civil restraining order could banish someone from a community.
England noted that suspicious incidents or crime complaints should be called in to the Stettler RCMP so police have a pattern and history to help them in investigations and arrests.
“Lots of options,” said England. “We just gotta catch them.”
England noted fire code regulations can be used to address crime centred at a business; however, a residence is different. The physical age of a home can sometimes allow fire code regulations to be of use when addressing the home’s use as a hub for crime.
Coun. Clark German asked if RCMP regularly patrol communities such as Big Valley, and England responded some RCMP members go out on regular patrols on their own initiative, particularly traffic officers. However, officers usually go to communities “as needed.”
German stated most people like to see a police presence in their community.
“It’s nice to see a presence without the lights having to be on,” said German.
England provided Big Valley council with some information. on recent crime in and around Big Valley.
In 2022 the provincial Stettler detachment area which includes Big Valley region saw a 51.1 per cent drop in persons crimes which includes offences like assault, a 27.5 per cent drop in property crimes such as theft and just shy of a 16 per cent drop in Criminal Code offences such as impaired driving.
Drilling down a bit deeper England stated that over the past three months in the Village of Big Valley and surrounding rural areas 41 total complaints went to RCMP and of those seven were property related which included complaints of abandoned vehicles that eventually turned out not to be abandoned.
There were 11 calls for service which included two impaired driving investigations, one theft of a motor vehicle, a disturbing the peace complaint, a sudden death, instances of uttering threats and other complaints.
Councillors accepted the RCMP delegation as information.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter