Stettler town council hears crime rate drops in 2022

Written by Stu Salkeld

Stettler town council heard crime rates in the community have dropped in 2022, leaving this detachment with the best stats in the region. The presentation was made to council at their June 21 regular meeting.

S/Sgt. Bruce Holliday, commander of the Stettler RCMP detachment, appeared before council to give an update on crime in the area, and submitted reports on both provincial and municipal crime gauges.

Looking at the Stettler provincial crime gauge total Criminal Code offences were down 34 per cent when compared to January to May of last year.

Persons crimes were down four per cent, property crime was down 39 per cent, break and enter was down 45 per cent, theft of motor vehicle was down by seven fewer instances, theft under $5,000 was down by one instance and other Criminal Code offences were down 50 per cent.

Taking a gander at the municipal crime gauge total Criminal Code offences were down by 25 per cent when compared to the same time last year.

Persons crimes were down five per cent, property crimes were down 35 per cent, break and enters were down 38 per cent, theft of motor vehicle was down 35 per cent, theft under $5,000 was down 42 per cent and other Criminal Code offences were down 12 per cent year over year.

Holliday stated drug enforcement in the area has remained about the same as last year while Mental Health Act charges have increased by about four per cent; he noted it’s an issue regionally and provincially.

The commander noted the RCMP is examining the use of body worn cameras right now in a pilot project. He stated such cameras are more commonly used in the United States than Canada.

Coun. Scott Pfeiffer stated he was happy to see crime going down in the area, but asked where the instances of fraud are occurring.

Holliday responded they’re mostly phone-related with the calls originating all over the world and noted prosecution is difficult because the callers are usually based in a foreign country.

There appears to be a spike in these fraud calls in the spring he added.

Coun. Wayne Smith asked Holliday his opinion of body worn cameras.

Holliday answered that he spoke from his own experience that the cameras would ensure RCMP officers are accountable and there’s not much better evidence than a video and audio recording of an incident.

However, he pointed out Canada’s cold climate could affect how the cameras operate which would be a challenge.

Mayor Sean Nolls asked if Holliday had advice for summer crime prevention. Holliday stated a lot of crime is spontaneous and opportunistic, so people should lock their vehicles.

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky asked about the detachment staffing levels. The commander stated one Stettler mountie recently accepted a new job in B.C., and one member is reduced due to a health issue. However, the S/Sgt. stated he tries to plan ahead and fill gaps as quickly as possible.

Holliday stated that the Stettler detachment has the best stats out of 23 detachments in the region. Councillors accepted the report for information.

Dirt bike track
Councillors approved a response to a request from the Stettler Dirt Riders Association; a spokesperson appeared at a previous meeting to ask the Town of Stettler for support in the form of some roadway materials and to help mow grass n the property infield.

After discussing the request at a committee of the whole meeting councillors passed a resolution that the town would provide excess roadway material to help the dirt riders but that the association would have to continue cutting the infield grass themselves.

This was contingent to the dirt riders signing a new lease with the town.

Emergency room closure
Councillors also approved by resolution some strong words regarding the closure of the Stettler Hospital’s emergency room one day in both May and June, 2022.

“CAO Switenky advised that on June 9, 2022, the Town of Stettler administration was advised by Alberta Health Services (AHS) that the Stettler Hospital’s emergency room would not be staffed by a physician for a 24-hour period due to staffing challenges.

“Alberta Health Services (AHS) own and operate the Stettler Hospital complex including the newly renovated emergency room and to have it closed due to doctor shortages is unacceptable. It seems there has been a serious deterioration in accountability on behalf of AHS or the Province of Alberta to the residents of Stettler and surrounding area.”

The memo also stated Mayor Nolls and Switenky had a meeting planned with AHS for June 22 to hear how these shutdowns would be avoided in the future.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.