RCMP reveals Morinville crime stats

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Crime in Morinville is on par with last year’s rates, if not slightly down. That’s the word from Morinville RCMP Staff Sergeant Mac Richards who brought his detachment’s second quarter policing report to Morinville Town Council Aug. 24.

In total, the Morinville Detachment has responded to 2,284 calls for service in the first two quarters of 2010, with 1,257 of them occurring in the second quarter. Calls for service have been on a steady increase over the past three years with 3,754 calls being received in 2007, 4,002 in 2008 and 5,246 in 2009.

Richards report identifies 17 separate areas of policing. The overall numbers show a steady picture in some cases and a downward trend in others, particularly mischief to property, thefts from motor vehicles and thefts over and under $5,000.

While thefts in general are down in Morinville; break-and-enters are on the rise. The Morinville RCMP responded to 18 break-and-enter calls in the first half of 2010 compared to 22 for all of 2009. Although last year’s break-and-enters were down significantly from the 36 reported in 2008 and the 42 reported in 2007, 2010 is shaping up to be on target with earlier years.

“We’re definitely up over last year,” Richards said, adding that his statistics show that most of the break-ins are business related, roughly half of the break-and-enters being to garages and sheds. “As far as residences go, we’re pretty much on par for the year.”

Also on par with last year is the number of assaults in Morinville. Although assaults are on track with last year’s figures, Richard’s said the numbers are higher than he’d like to see. There were 43 assaults committed in Morinville between January and June, with almost half (19) occurring in June alone.

“It’s still disturbing to see that we’re having all these things,” Richards said. “It’s one of those ones where it’s not necessarily a good thing that we are on par. We’re not making any headway here.”

Richards said most of the assaults his detachment deals with involve people who are known to one another – couples, siblings, friends and schoolmates. It is rare that RCMP respond to an assault where the victim is unknown to the perpetrator.

“We do get some, but that is the rarity,” he said. “Last year we had 72 assaults and with 67 of them, we knew who did it. It’s a small percentage of assaults where it’s unknown who the assailant is.”

The quarterly report also shows higher drug numbers that in the past few years, 21 in the first two quarters of 2010 compared with 28 for all of 2009. But Richards cautions that although the numbers track higher, it doesn’t mean drug crime is on the rise in Morinville.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a greater drug issue in the community,” he said. “We’re catching more. If we use the photo radar example – we don’t have more speeders since we got photo radar. We’re just catching the ones who are speeding.”

And while the Town of Morinville may be catching more speeders since investing in photo radar a year ago, the RCMP are catching their fair share of other traffic-related crimes.

The RCMP Staff Sergeant told council there have been 29 impaired driving charges laid this year already. Although Richards believes the numbers of impaired drivers are far too high, he said his department is doing everything they can to take them off the road.

“It’s an issue that’s at the forefront of our member’s minds,” Richards said. “Every shift they take, there are impaired drivers. And it’s not just the detachments that are looking for impaired drivers. We receive calls on a daily basis from the general public phoning in people in vehicles that they suspect are impaired. Sometimes the driver isn’t; sometimes they are. We’ve been successful in apprehending impaired drivers based on the general motoring public.”

Richards said the third quarter report, which will include the summer months, will give the Town a better idea of just how Morinville’s crime picture compares to previous years because the summer months are historically busier for certain types of crimes.

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