RCMP hopes to improve community engagement – ​​Eckville Echo


The Sylvan Lake RCMP Detachment wants to foster better communication between officers and members of the community.

On September 27, Staff Sgt. Christopher Peden held a town hall at the NexSource Centre, the second this year, and the community was invited out. Peden gave a presentation that detailed crime statistics to date for Sylvan Lake and surrounding areas, the reasoning behind some of these numbers, and the efforts RCMP officers are making to keep their patrol area safe.

However, one of the key messages that came out of the meeting was the need for the community to report crimes when they happen, rather than brushing them off.

“We can only investigate crimes that we know about,” Peden explained. “While this may seem trivial to citizens, it informs about trends or crimes as a whole taking place in our jurisdiction. We can use data analysis to determine hotspots – where concentrations of crime are occurring – and this gives us the ability to police more effectively.

Peden said reporting all crimes, even petty ones, paints a bigger picture of the community and what’s going on there. For example, are these crimes moving through different neighborhoods, is it a single event or a series.

“This information gives us more insight and we can respond appropriately,” Peden said. “We share our information with other local detachments and we can compare crime trends.”

Identifying trends can help the RCMP develop better patrol plans or the detachment’s approach to solving particular crimes, Peden explained.

Each detachment operates with an annual performance plan, and Peden said part of Sylvan Lake’s plan for the 2022/2023 year includes communicating with the community. However, communication is a two-way street and the RCMP strives to improve communication with citizens after a crime has been committed, ensuring that people are informed of what has happened. Peden said that communication will become easier once Victim Services is back up and running for Sylvan Lake.

When it comes to reporting crimes and knowing what’s going on around Sylvan Lake, Peden mentioned the importance of the Crime Capture Program, where citizens can record their security cameras, giving officers another possibility of investigation.

Attending the town hall were other RCMP officers from Central Alberta Division, as well as members of city council and two citizens – Scott Klimack and a man who identified himself only as Jim.

“I’m here out of hope,” Jim said. “You are a new commander and this is a new beginning. But there is a crime problem here and you have inherited some problems.

Jim said he knew people weren’t reporting crimes, but there was a disturbing amount of crime happening.

“I know people here, and we talk,” Jim explained. But nobody wants to admit that there could be a problem because it will affect income. I wouldn’t have wasted my time coming here today, but I’m hopeful.

“A common complaint is that no one answers us,” Klimack said. “I don’t know why community engagement is lacking.”

“I’m here and I’m committed to Sylvan Lake,” Peden said. “I took over in January and recalls are something we want to improve.” Peden agreed that if citizens don’t hear from the RCMP, they will stop calling. And if they stop calling, agents won’t have a clear picture of what’s going on in the community.

“I feel like there are some positive changes happening,” Peden said. “I’m ready to have those conversations.”

Peden reported background information and several crime statistics at the public meeting. For example, he said the detachment is now complete.

“During the latter part of last year, we had several vacancies,” he explained. “Now we have a full complement of members, so we are seeing an increase in proactive policing because we have the resources to do that.

Members are spending more time with Project Lighthouse, an initiative in which officers perform compliance checks on newly released individuals who are subject to bail conditions. Although Project Lighthouse has been active for a few years, Peden said the detachment is always looking for ways to implement crime reduction initiatives. Between April, May and June of this year, Peden said officers conducted 240 compliance checks, which is a marked increase.

“With members doing compliance checks, we find people who are not meeting their terms and we charge them,” he said.

During his presentation, Peden also reported on Sylvan Lake and the surrounding area and how the jurisdiction falls under the Crime Severity Index. Currently, this jurisdiction sits at 99.9 on the index. For comparison, out of 146 detachments in the province, Sylvan Lake is 123rd on the provincial side, i.e. the patrol area outside the town of Sylvan Lake, and 82nd on the municipal side, i.e. the patrol area outside the town of Sylvan Lake. that is, crimes that occur in the city proper. The average for all RCMP detachments is 114, so Sylvan Lake is below average.

“Our Crime Severity Index is down, so our ranking is down,” Peden explained. “If we were number one on the list, we would be in a really bad spot.” Jurisdiction number one has a Crime Severity Index of 981. The Municipal Detachment of Red Deer, for example, is 176.4 and is 35th on the list.

The Sylvan Lake RCMP Detachment also patrols Eckville, Bentley and the summer villages surrounding the lake.

There will be another town hall in the spring, so be sure to keep an eye out for details.

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