Community forum on policing coming up Jan. 13

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

One of the more interesting thing local police dealt with over the Christmas period was a collision at Main St. and Hwy. 2 in Slave Lake. Not that such fender-benders are that rare. They aren’t, but this one happened to involve a police car.

“It was the Lakeshore Police,” says Slave Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. John Spaans. “It’s our jurisdiction so we’re investigating it.”

The police pickup truck was turning left (east) onto the highway off Main St. The car that hit it was going north on Main St.

“It was probably a broadside,” Spaans says.

Somebody was injured in the crash, but Spaans didn’t say who.

None of the other 90 calls in the week amounted to anything very serious, Spaans says, although the victims of break-ins might dispute that. Three such reports came in on Monday, Dec. 30. These were from people returning home from holidays to find their property had been targeted.

Other than that, there have been quite a few calls lately about people sleeping where they shouldn’t be – bank vestibules for example. Another spot is in the back stairwell of a certain apartment building in Slave Lake.

Spaans says the culprits aren’t always drunk, so police have been shuttling them to the overnight shelter at the Friendship Centre. Why they don’t go there in the first place is a good question.

Perhaps the question will be asked at the Jan. 13 community policing forum the RCMP is organizing. Almost for sure there will be representatives of a group of industrial property owners who got organized earlier this year after a rash of brazen thefts.

Crimes down generally, but B&Es up
Spaans says he’ll be presenting statistics from 2019 at the meeting. They’ll include the news that there was a 13 per cent decrease in criminal code offenses in 2019. Crimes against persons (assaults and such) were down 25 per cent, and theft under $5,000 (I.e. shoplifting) was down 22 per cent. On the other hand, breaking and entering incidents rose 22 per cent in the same period.

Some of those in the last category, Spaans says, were not B&Es in the usual sense; they were cases of people having moved in to unoccupied houses. Squatting, in other words. There were three such cases in recent weeks, he says. One of them was on Dec. 23. Police found two people inside a home, after getting a call about a break-in in progress. The pair were charged and released, with a first court appearance scheduled for Feb. 5.

The police will have details about that and much more at the Jan. 13 forum, and be prepared to answer questions. Spaans says he hopes to have reps from the rural crime unit at the meeting as well. It’s at 6:00 p.m. at the Legacy Centre in Slave Lake.

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