Updates M.D. council on staffing, crime trends, enforcement priorities
RCMP Staff Sgt. Chris Murphy made what might be his last regular update on policing issues to M.D. council last week. ‘Might,’ because although he has been transferred to Hinton, he needs to sell his house in Slave Lake. There was considerable wise-cracking about how long this might take and why it might not be happening before Murphy got down to business.
“It’s a transitional year at the detachment,” Murphy said. Several members have been transferred. Most of the replacements will be fresh out of the RCMP academy. As for the new staff sergeant, the recruitment process has begun and can take a while.
Councillor Garry Horton said he hoped the RCMP visits to Smith School would continue, if the officer that has been doing them is replaced. Murphy assured him they would.
Getting into the actual work of the RCMP, Murphy said there were no details on the recent homicide in the Smith area to report. The investigation continues and when there are significant developments, the news will be released.
Priorities for the detachment continue to be traffic safety, interrupting drug trafficking, community visibility and reducing property crime. Under that last item, the habitual offenders program will continue to play a role, Murphy said. This is the program where the RCMP team up with other agencies to try to direct certain people into a lifestyle that doesn’t constantly bring them into conflict with the law.
Councillor Mike Skrynyk asked how effective it had been. Somewhat effective in a couple of cases, Murphy said. There were two people who went two years without reoffending due to this type of intervention, from what had been weekly encounters with police. Other cases were much less successful. Regardless, said Murphy, “We need to show we are taking those steps.”
Councillor Brad Pearson asked what the enforcement strategy would be with regard to the new law requiring helmets for ATV riders. There will be a focus on education at first, Murphy said.
Councillor Robert Esau asked if ‘trail cam’ pictures had any value for police in catching the perpetrators of crime. Quality of image is important, Murphy said, but “any information is better than nothing.”
Esau asked about theft of fuel from farmers or truckers. Apparently it is not uncommon in his area of the M.D. He asked if Murphy had heard of any product that could be used to ‘mark’ one’s fuel. Murphy hadn’t, but said he’d look into it.
Esau’s final question was about the legality of citizen’s arrests. Murphy said the law allows for what is ‘reasonable under the circumstances.’ However, all kinds of caution is necessary, he said, citing examples of the victim ending up far worse off for having tried to intervene. However, it happens, he said, and if you do apprehend somebody, your first call should be to the police.