The cold spell of the final week of 2017 proved to be a pretty busy week for the Slave Lake RCMP detachment.
Staff Sgt. John Spaans says the RCMP responded to 77 calls of service during the cold snap. These calls all ranged from false alarms, to reports of mischief, to traffic collision as well as various other activities.
Spaans explains that a number of the false alarms were directly due to the cold. Condensation and humidity built up in buildings, which in turn cause motion sensors to go off.
“But given that it was the holiday season and what not, people were still out and about regardless of the cold and that always spells trouble for us,” he says.
Spaans says that despite there being 77 calls, nothing major occurred during the cold spell or the holiday season. He said the calls they did get were pretty standard. There were a number of break and enters that were still under investigation at the time of this interview. He did not feel anything really stood out as extraordinary.
“It’s just very typical long weekend behaviour all around, nothing too serious,” he says.
There were a number of domestic violence occurrences over this time period. Spaans feels that this came down to people being pent up due to the low temperature. He also feels that since it was the holidays and a long weekend there was a increase in alcohol consumption that played a role though he did not say that was the cause.
“It certainly didn’t help,” he says.
Spaans gives some advice for dealing with the cold. He says that if temperatures drop and you decide to go out and drink alcohol, it is important to have a plan in place. Driving while drunk is never an option. He recommends designated drivers. If you choose to walk out in the cold, make sure it is a short walk and dress for the cold. That includes toque, gloves and a coat.
“I think it is important that people are sufficiently dressed if they are going to go out and walk home,” he says.
The RCMP did encounter some of the homeless population during that week. Spaans says officers were able to direct some of them toward the Mat Program at St. Peter’s Ecumenical Church. This gave them a chance to escape the elements and a place to stay over the holidays.
“We always encourage everyone to be safe and that’s one means of doing so,” he says.