by Calli Stromner
Morinville – Local Mounties will be focusing on three top priorities for the next 12 months after Council approved the Morinville detachment’s Annual Performance Plan. In addition to their regular duties, local constables also plans to target traffic safety and property crime, as well as beef up its image in the community with more engagement activities.
“The annual performance plan is the annual process the RCMP uses to plan its work. It’s supposed to be built on the input from a number of stakeholders,” said Staff Sergeant Mathias during a presentation to Morinville Council May 14. “We look at crime statistics and the work we’ve done at the detachment,” he said, adding that consultation with the community and key stakeholders is also an important part of the planning work. He said that detachment members will be expected to create plans that address enforcement, education, communication, partnerships and any other initiatives that will aid in improving traffic safety. “We are looking to gain compliance rather than focusing on enforcement,” added Mathias.
The Morinville RCMP detachment responded to a total of 5,889 calls for service in the Sturgeon County area in the past 12 months, including 2,405 (41%) traffic related calls. “This is by far the largest percentage of our work load,” said Mathias. “If we have a collision, our members can be tied up for hours. Collisions are the leading cause of preventable injury and death for our detachment area.”
The second area of focus for members of the Morinville detachment will be to address the rising number of property crimes in the area. “We’re often tied up with multiple crimes of theft, property crimes and such,” said Mathias, adding that 822 complaints (36%) from the past 12 months involved property crime such as theft, break and enter and damage to property. “We hear from people regularly that they are concerned about property crime in the area. We want to look at a number of different activities that look at preventing crime in the community,” he said.
Finally, an increased effort on community engagement rounds out the 2014-15 Morinville detachment Annual Performance Plan. “Crime is not just a policing issue, it’s a community issue. We need more community buy-in,” said Mathias. “We have to work on better communication with the community so that our goals match the community’s goals.” A number of initiatives are being explored, including additional communication efforts at the detachment level with the community level. Mathias added that communication is a two-way street however and the community has a responsibility to report all crimes that happen so that police officers can be more proactive in areas with higher crime stats.
Councillor Nicole Boutestein echoed Mathias’ comments on education. “The education portion that you are talking about is so important for residents. We are not that 5,000 population anymore,” Boutestein said, adding that higher population numbers increase the level of crime.