Above: Morinville Staff Sergeant Chris Palfy presents the RCMP Detachment’s Annual Report to Council at its Mar. 10 regular meeting. – Lucie Roy Photo
by Colin Smith
Crime against persons was up slightly last year in Morinville, but property crime was up by a lot.
The crime statistics for January to December 2019 were contained in the detachment’s quarterly report presented by Staff Sergeant Chris Palfy at the March 10 regular meeting of Town Council.
With a total of 163 occurrences, offenses against persons were up five per cent over the previous year, the highest of the past five years.
However in 2014, there were 188 offenses, and persons crime is down 13% over the 2014-2019 period.
“We have a slight increase,” Palfy said. “I’m always concerned about persons crime. But I’m not seeing five per cent as any kind of trend.”
Criminal harassment climbed by 50% and uttering threats by 32%.
Palfy said these offences often are due to “a lot of silliness online” and can also be related to domestic disputes.
Last year sexual assaults were down 33% and other sexual offences were down 63 per cent.
Property crime in the community is up 42% over 2019.
One of the biggest jumps is for fraud, 66%. Palfy explained that this would include complaints about telephone and internet scams, in addition to any frauds that actually took place physically in the Town.
Motor vehicle thefts, thefts over and under $5,000 and mischief to property also rose significantly.
“It seems like break and enters are down, which is excellent,” Palfy said.
The Morinville RCMP presence includes the Provincial Detachment that is divided into three zones: Sturgeon County, Lac St Anne County and Alexander First Nation.
Sturgeon County zone includes the town of Bon Accord, Town of Legal, Town of Gibbons, the Hamlet of Riviere Que Barre, Calahoo, Villeneuve, Sandy Beach, Cardiff, Namao and other small communities, as well as CFB Edmonton.
The Morinville Municipal Detachment covers the municipality of Morinville only.
The report contained a pie chart produced by Palfy indicating the percentage of RCMP files generated by town or region. Thirty-six per cent of the files came from Morinville, nine per cent from Gibbons, four per cent from Bon Accord and three per cent from Legal, with the remaining 48% from Sturgeon County.
Of the 2,497 Criminal Code offences in these municipalities in 2019, 905 took place in Morinville.
Palfy noted that the Morinville Detachment is now up to strength, with the staff sergeant, one sergeant, five corporals, 17 constables, four public service employees and four municipal employees, although four officers are on leave due to medical issues.
Two officers are being transferred, with Constable Tearle on his way to Saskatchewan and Constable Hall to move to Churchill, Manitoba at a time yet to be determined.
Among the new initiatives, the Morinville detachment is working on is the possibility of using the “Capture” database, which would incorporate the locations of video surveillance cameras in the region, to provide information solving crimes.
In his report, Palfy noted that in 2020 the Morinville Provincial RCMP will not be receiving any of the additional funding for rural law enforcement officers announced by the provincial government last year.