RCMP CO updates council on staffing, vagrancy, human remains

Callie Hermanson
Lakeside Leader

On November 20, 2018 Sgt. John Spaans of the Slave Lake RCMP attended the Town Council meeting to present a report on what’s up with the police department and crime in Slave Lake.

Spaans started off his report explaining to council the detachment is fully staffed for the past year they have been plus-two members. He said one of those members has recently sold her house and she will be gone by mid January.

Spaans said they just had a corporal transfer out as he got promoted to Manning Alta.

Spaans then continued to discuss issues in Slave Lake. He said their are two identified issues, the biggest one being theft of motor vehicles.

Spaans explained they have seen an increase of over 34 per cent over the past year and the vast majority of these thefts are pick-up trucks with keys are being left in the vehicle. He said there are some techniques they are going to explore to catch those who are stealing vehicles and they are going to starting a public awareness campaign called ‘lock it or lose it.’

Spaans said he will be in Stony Plain on Friday, November 23, talking to their operations people and seeing what they do. He said essentially they will be picking up their foot patrols, checking for vehicles that are unlocked, checking for keys to see if they are visible inside and either giving the registered owner a phone call or leaveing a note on their vehicle to try and curb it that way.

Spaans moved into discussing the second issue, being property crime. He stated it continues to be an increasing problem with an 11 per cent increase over the last year.

“That being said, we have had some huge success with targeted enforcement,” said Spaans. “Targeted enforcement means we have picked off our most prolific offenders and hounded them over and over again. This resulted in eight individuals who have accounted for 101 criminal code charges since April 1st.”
Spaans said these people have been arrested and gone to jail.

“But since we are only talking about shoplifting and petty crimes, it is jail, sentenced, time served and released.”

What community members and business owners are going to see is a a wave said Spaans. He said you are going to see peaks, the police are going to catch them, crime is going to go down for a month and it’s going to go back up.

“Right now we are at a point where it has gone back up as most of these prolific offenders are out; of those eight one is still in jail.” He added they just started arresting them as of two weeks ago.

Spaans mentioned with that targeted enforcement they have been able to gain a considerable amount of intelligence. The police have a rough idea of where that stolen property is going, including a number of firearms.

Spaans said they have done about five search warrants and recovered a number of stolen items, including cameras, game consoles, tools at a residence in town.

“Our municipal GIS had been a huge help; we wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”

Spaans said another huge issue the town has is vagrancy. He mentioned the Mat Program is up and running and since then fewer people are spending the night in cells.

The police wants to have the public avoid coming across these people sleeping in banks and such first thing in the morning; day shift workers will come in at 7:00 a.m. and do rounds checking and waking people up before the general public comes across them.

Spaans says another hot topic around town these days is the human remains.

Right now police are waiting on DNA analysis, said Spaans adding several samples were sent away. Unfortunately they were sent away via mail and mail is not moving anywhere very fast these days, making no results.

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