Morinville crime down in second quarter due to COVID, RCMP say

Above: Staff Sergeant Chris Palfy speaks to Council about the second quarter policing statistics. – Lucie Roy Photo

by Colin Smith

Crime in Morinville is down substantially this year and it’s mainly thanks to the pandemic.

The Morinville Municipal RCMP detachment has dealt with 83 crimes against persons and 276 property crimes from January to September this year, compared to 169 personal crimes and 438 property crimes for the same period last in 2019.

The figures are contained in the second quarter report presented to Town Council at its regular meeting Tuesday by Staff Sergeant Chris Palfy, the Detachment Commander.

“Although positive, caution should be used when interpreting these statistical drops in reported crime,” Palfy stated in the report. “COVID-19 has had a significant impact on reported occurrences across the province, and it is likely the primary contributor to these drops, rather than a trend showing lower crime rates on a more permanent basis.”

He noted that the drop in property crimes brings the numbers more in line with years previous to 2019, in which they were unusually high.

Persons crime is down mainly as a reflection of fewer reported assaults, criminal harassment and uttering threats.

The only Criminal Code offence that did not see a substantial decrease over the previous year was sexual assault, which held steady at 12 reported.

Municipally, the number of motor vehicle collisions involving injuries and property damage went up.

The detachment is currently undertaking activities including online reporting for the Provincial Government and a Traffic Crime Reduction Unit. Another pilot project involves a Watch Clerk to assist in administrative tasks and “keep officers focused on investigations and out of the office as much as possible.”

COVID-19 has resulted in changes for the detachment besides less crime to deal with. Access to its building is strictly controlled, online or email reporting has been substituted for many activities that were done at the front counter and there are added sterilization practices. Personal protective equipment is used in almost all situations.

Palfy described the quarter as an active one for the detachment in personnel terms, with significant changes.

Sergeant Courtorielle (Operations NCO) has retired. His replacement, Sergeant Lew Simms recently arrived. Corporal Daryl Charron had taken over Ops role in the interim.

Corporal Gulash has been promoted to Parkland County. A replacement has been named but the officer’s arrival date is uncertain. Constable Hollinger is currently filling that role.

Constable Darren Hall’s transfer has finalized and he has left for Punnichy SK. Constables Mariane Marin, Brian Ortman, Erynne Lafayette are now serving with the

Detachment and Constable Colin Brown will be arriving soon.

Constables Zinck, Rachkov, and Hawkins will all be transferring out in the coming months, while Constable Lajoie is transferring in from Nova Scotia. Soon-to-be Constable Amanda Gosbee has been hired under the Experienced Officer Program and is set to arrive in November.

The Province allocated a new constable new position for Morinville Detachment, which is now has a complement of some 33 RCMP members, four Public Service employees and four Town of Morinville employees.

Three members are presently on medical leave or restrictions.

The quarterly report was accepted by Council as information.

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