Property crime, assaults, are increasing in Smoky region

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Crimes involving property and assaults in the Falher-McLennan region are up, according to 2020 statistics for McLennan RCMP.

“Property crime tends to be an area that the McLennan detachment focuses on and remains a one of the RCMP’s priorities to find solutions,” Sgt. Mark Hall says.

Last year, McLennan police responded to 78 mischief incidents [70 in 2019], 64 thefts [69 in 2019], 56 break-and-enters [58 in 2019], and 41 thefts of motor vehicles [54 in 2019].

“The statistics do not show huge fluctuations year to year,” Hall says.

McLennan RCMP responded to 1,363 calls in 2020, down from 1,548 in 2019.

“Break-and-enters and theft of motor vehicles were identified as top priorities for the McLennan detachment through community consultations,” Hall says.

Both of those issues saw fewer incidents in 2020 over 2019.

“It is unclear whether the decline is related to our efforts or the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hall says.

Reported assaults nearly doubled to 38 in 2020 from only 22 in 2019.

“This increase can be attributed to a variety of factors,” Hall says.

“Although it isn’t clear as to why assaults increased in 2020, a portion of these assaults are domestic violence related and the RCMP is aware that the COVID-19 pandemic may be especially difficult for those experiencing intimate partner violence.”

COVID-19 changed the way of life and culture with many lockdowns as people were requested to stay at home.

“When comparing statistics from 2019 to 2020, there is no way to correlate whether or not COVID-19 played a part in the crime trends during 2020,” Hall says.

For those on the front line, the daily routine of responding to calls, enforcing laws and keeping Canadians safe is still much the same.

“We are alert to this new risk and are building extra precautions into our operational response, just as we have done before for other emerging hazards,” Hall says.

“Our members have the tools and training to deal with a national emergency. COVID-19 may be new, but we have been adapting to extreme hazards for years.”

Police appreciate the dog handler that started with High Prairie RCMP on Aug. 25.

“McLennan RCMP has used the police dog service a number of times since returning to High Prairie,” Hall says.

“Having the dog handler close has been a welcomed addition and has positively impacted the wait times normally encountered in the past making for expeditious investigations.”

Drugs play a part in some criminal activity within the McLennan area and can be a driving factor for people to commit crimes, he says.

Priorities for 2021-22 for the detachment will soon be set.

“McLennan RCMP has set up a community consultation committee to create solutions to problems the area is facing,” Hall says.

“Through this consultation process, a Citizens on Patrol initiative was put forward and enthusiastically supported.”

Police officers have also engaged with the community in such activities as the serving in active roles in community organizations, coaching team sports and developing youth engagement strategies while navigating the COVID-19 restrictions.

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