Legal – RCMP Staff Sergeant Mac Richards brought a mixture of good and bad news to Legal Town Council Aug. 16. On the positive side, crime was down during the second quarter of 2010. On the negative side, after hours partying during Fête au Village was a problem again this year.
Richards told council that thefts were down from 2009 levels, particularly thefts from motor vehicles. RCMP reports show only four thefts occurred in the town between April and June. Mischief to property is also on a decline, although Richards said it remains an ongoing problem in Legal and the other communities his detachment covers. Four incidences of property mischief were reported between April and May, bringing the total to seven instances during the first half of 2010.
In total, the Morinville Detachment received 59 calls for service during the second quarter of 2010, a marginal increase from the 54 calls for service they received during the first quarter.
“When I look at it for the first half of the year, we’re really on par or maybe a little bit below from previous years, which is a nice trend to see,” Richards said. “Early indications are that this will be quieter than the preceding years.”
However the staff sergeant said the real indicator will be the third quarter, as it contains the summer months where crime rates traditionally go up.
Richards told council that not all crimes are committed by residents, particularly thefts from automobiles, an offence that the staff sergeant said will often move from town to town.
“We do have some travelling criminals that do go through the towns and the area,” Richards said. “It’s one of the drawbacks to being so close to a major centre or even other communities. Sometimes they prefer to operate in areas where they’re not living or policed from.”
One particular area of concern Staff Sergeant Richards brought to council’s attention was after hours activities during this year’s Fête au Village.
“We had some issues that were identified with the beer garden,” Richards told council, adding that he would be speaking to the Fête Committee to offer his guidance on how to eliminate some of those issues next year. The bigger problem was the drinking going on outside the Fête grounds. “Next year, as a group, we need to send the message that it’s a weekend for fun, but all the laws – as far as drinking in public – aren’t put aside for the weekend. We’re getting a lot of people coming here. Some are coming for the party and the Fête is an afterthought. I know that’s not what the intent of it is.”
Staff Sergeant Richards recommended council do something to better control the campground, particularly the numbers of people gathering in the facility.
“We were seeing over 200 people in the campground, a lot of under-aged kids, a lot of drinking, a lot of partying late [at] night,” Richards said, adding that finding a solution could be difficult. “One of the issues we have is we have no idea who is a legitimate camper.”
Richards advocated setting ground rules for the facility early on and perhaps having a manned check-in rather than the self check-in system currently used.
“If we want to avoid the problems we’ve had the last two years, we’re going to have to do something different than what we’ve done,” he said, adding that the answer to the problem would need to be decided at a group level. “It may be that the campground is run a little bit differently than the other weekends of the summer.”
Administration recommended council hire a security firm to monitor and control the campground area for next year’s Fête.