By MorinvilleNews.com Staff
Morinville – RCMP Staff Sergeant Mac Richards visited Morinville Town Council Jan. 24 to deliver fourth quarter and 2011 crime and policing statistics for the community.
Richards said historically the second half of the year is busiest for police as it encompasses the summer months. Even though the second half of the year included some unseasonably good fall weather, it did not have the expected impact on crime numbers.
One of the biggest effects of crime felt by residents in Morinville is property crime, and those numbers are down. “Overall, 2011 was the lowest thefts from vehicles in the last five years,” Richards told Council. “The fact that overall crime rates are now decreasing is good when we consider the overall population is increasing.”
In 2011 there were 35 thefts from motor vehicles reported, down from the 52 reported in 2010, and less than half of the 79 reported in 2009 – the peak year of the past five. Richards attributes the decline to public education on removing valuables and keeping vehicles locked.
Thefts under $5,000 were also down in 2011 to 63, also the lowest in the past five years. Although thefts over $5,000 reported in 2011 were up to 17, two incidences higher than in 2010, the numbers are down from the 22 reported in 2009.
Mischief continues to be a problem in Morinville for residents. Although 2011 saw no incidences of mischief over $5,000, as was the case in 2010, mischief under $5,000 saw 157 incidences in 2011, up slightly from 2010’s 143 reports but down somewhat from the 193 reported in 2009.
RCMP focused on a number of criminal code areas to highlight in 2011, impaired driving being a key area. Richards said there were 23 impaired driving charges last year. Richards has indicated in the past the public has been of great assistance in nabbing impaired drivers simply by phoning in those they suspect of being intoxicated behind the wheel.
But impaired drivers are not the only people the detachment was looking for on the roads in 2011. Richards said he implemented a strategy in April of 2011 whereby his members would dedicate an entire shift to traffic. Five different dates were chosen for Morinville, resulting in 52 charges, including impaired charges and warrants as well as regular traffic-related infractions. “The goal wasn’t to write tickets, but visibility and education coupled with enforcement,” Richards said.
Other criminal matters from drugs to assaults showed similar numbers in 2011 to those of 2010. While crime is down in most areas, so too are calls for service. The Morinville RCMP responded to 4,137 calls for service in 2011, down from the 5,186 they responded to in 2010.
Partnerships are key
Richards, who has been Staff Sergeant in Morinville for the past three years, said community involvement and presence has been important to the detachment. Police have been a regular presence at the St. Jean Baptiste and Light Up the Night Festivals as well as other public events. Additionally, police regularly visit Morinville’s schools for presentations and the annual DARE drug education program, something Community Peace Officer James Alaeddine is now taking training on.
Additionally, RCMP members and staff are currently conducting the 10th annual Citizen’s Academy. This year’s group has 27 residents learning about various aspects of police work. Richards said Morinville is the only RCMP Detachment he has worked at that has such a program for citizens.