Crime reduction and community engagement are top priorities at Athabasca Detachment

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ATHABASCA — It might seem obvious for law enforcement to want to reduce crime, but at town halls, virtual and in-person, across the country, the types of crime to be reduced vary by community.

In some places, drug-related crimes may be at the top of the list, while in another community there may be more break and enters than the town down the street, so it’s important to speak with residents to take their pulse on how they feel. important in their community.

“Each year we have a list of topics that we like to cover in what we call our annual performance plan,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Hall during a virtual town hall held on March 3.

He said the town hall is an invaluable way to engage with citizens to give the RCMP feedback on what they feel is important to the 15 RCMP members in Athabasca.

“I am fortunate to be able to say that we are at full capacity for our personnel at the moment, which is rare when it comes to a lot of secondments,” he said.

Noting a slide in his presentation listing the number of calls for service in a side-by-side comparison of 2020 and 2021, he noted decreases in many crime categories.

“I saw some really good trends in a number of reported crimes,” Hall said. “They are down, which is a positive thing. We have a 17% decrease in crimes against persons (and) a 23% decrease in crimes against property.

He said it is due to the hard work of detachment members that the numbers are going down.

“We’re seeing some good positive things here and I can attest that the work detachment members are doing is a big contributing factor to those rates coming down,” he said.

Hall added that the number of animal collisions has increased.

“That seems to be one of the biggest areas this detachment sees with collisions,” Hall said. “So fatalities and injury collisions are down – we really don’t have a ton of those, which is a positive thing – but unfortunately with animals, that’s another area we spend a lot of time on. .”

Over a year, the detachment can handle between 5,000 and 6,000 different calls, Hall said, each taking time.

“We have done over 26 drug search warrants in which there is a significant amount of methamphetamine in the area,” he said. “We recovered stolen goods; we’ve taken a lot of guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t be in the community.

In the Q&A section, Hall said the cameras installed at the junction of Highway 2 and Highway 55 by Citizens on Patrol had been disconnected, but he would still like to see them used.

“’I’m looking at reinstalling them under this detachment here and putting them back,’ he said. “I think there were advantages there.”

He also said two dedicated members of the RCMP are assigned to the Calling Lake area as part of an agreement with the general manager of Opportunity.

“I have two more on the provincial side as well, which I also have an author, so we have four that are also designated for the MD and the Calling Lake area,” Hall said.

Athabasca City County Dave Pacholok asked about the revolving door because arrestees seem to be back on the streets in no time and if it’s frustrating for officers.

“I know hardly anyone feels it more than my officers when we arrest someone who is consistently committing crimes in the area here and then put them before a justice of the peace and then they are just released back into the community to recommit that thing. ,” he said. “So that’s definitely the frustration we have to deal with here.”

He added that it was out of their control and due to the justice system.

“Our court system is difficult to navigate,” Hall said. “Sometimes it doesn’t seem so supportive in the community, which is why we, as a police organization, as a community, need to come together to figure out how we can best help these people and not just fire them. ”

Hall said he plans to hold a town hall every three months when possible.

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