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RCMP reports fewer prisoners, more vehicle theft in past year

Feb 18, 2014 11:15 am | Sam Macdonald and Janice Huser

St. Paul RCMP Staff Sgt. Wade Trottier provided Town of St. Paul and County of St. Paul councils with a RCMP update at last week’s regular council meetings. Traffic, crime, and statistics were brought up at both meetings.

In the County of St. Paul, RCMP members responded to 1,128 calls in 2013. A total of 7,866 calls came in across the greater detachment area, according to information handed out at the county’s meeting on Feb. 11. Of the 2,510 prisoners held in St. Paul last year, 171 were people arrested in the county.

“It is safe to say our calls have been increasing in the county area,” said Trottier, when speaking to county council. Many of those calls are related to traffic on the roadways, along with animal complaints, such as horses on the loose, also being an issue.

Trottier also spoke on a recent trend RCMP in the northeast are seeing, which is the theft of ATM machines from businesses. It appears that suspects are stealing vehicles, then attempting to steal ATM machines.

A specific incident at the Bingo Hall in St. Paul was unsuccessful, heard council, but a more recent attempt at the Boston Pizza in Lac La Biche saw an ATM machine stolen from the business.

“It’s hard to say what vehicles they’re going to take,” said Trottier, adding, “It’s pretty unsophisticated.”

Trottier also brought up the issue of mailbox thefts. He added that so far, many of the people involved in this type of theft are also involved in a lifestyle that involves drug use, and are sometimes methamphetamine users.

He added that local RCMP have had some run-ins with people “in that lifestyle,” adding, methamphetamine users are often very mobile people.

Following his presentation to council, Trottier asked council what their priorities were for 2014 in regards to policing. Council agreed that the patrolling of lake subdivisions and campgrounds were still important, along with traffic control on highways.

“The county is growing and I think it’s going to continue to grow,” said Trottier.

In the Town of St. Paul, municipal members dealt with 3,640 occurrences in 2013. Of the 2,520 prisoners being lodged in the St. Paul precinct, 1,459 of those people were arrested in town.

Trottier told town council that prisoner statistics have decreased.

“We think it’s due to a strong vagrancy initiative. People with outstanding fines stayed in jail longer.” Another reason for the decrease is the efforts taking place to keep back alleys cleaned and thoroughly monitored.

Trottier said some of the priorities RCMP focused on in the past year included vagrancy and traffic-related offenses. In the last few months, there have been a lot of check stops, and tickets handed out for violations taking place in the Racette Jr. High School area.

The RCMP is also employing a domestic violence coordinator, Trottier said.

“If you’re getting a domestic violence coordinator, does that mean that there is a higher rate of domestic violence in St. Paul than Alberta as a whole?” asked Mayor Glenn Andersen.

“There were around 400 incidences last year,” Trottier replied. “That’s high for the detachment area.”

Coun. Norm Noel expressed alarm at the increase in motor vehicle theft in the detachment area.

“Is there anything to look for? That’s a very substantial increase,” said Noel.

Trottier explained the increase in the statistic was due to a trend RCMP is seeing in relation to vehicle thefts. Multiple vehicles in close vicinity were stolen, and abandoned in quick succession, heard council.

Andersen asked about the increase in Criminal Code Traffic reported incidences, which went up 22 per cent between 2012 and 2013.

Trottier said the increase in impaired driving in the past year was because there are now officers in the detachment who specialize and often patrol to watch specifically for certain traffic related offenses. Associated reports of impaired driving in the Town of St. Paul went up from 119 in 2012 to 154 in 2013.

“We do a fair number of impaired driving charges, and basically people make the decision (to drive impaired), if they’re going to do it. There’s a young guy, on our detachment, from Nova Scotia, and he goes out looking for impaired drivers when he’s on patrol.”

At the end of his report, Trottier told council that the RCMP is nearing the end of its fiscal year, and is looking at priorities. He suggested council come up with suggestions for priorities for this year, and forward them to the RCMP at the next meeting.

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