The head of Leduc County’s enforcement department said he was happy to see a very busy but very safe long weekend at the end of July.
Clarence Nelson, director of enforcement services, provided some data on the peace officers’ efforts on the long weekend.
“Overall, it was a fairly good weekend,” he said by phone Aug. 6.
According to the county, over the four-day period from July 31 to August 3, Leduc County peace officers traveled roughly 4,178 kilometers and issued a total of 79 charges for violations such as speeding, seatbelt infractions and liquor violations. The county stated officers also issued a total of 32 warnings and one 24-hour suspension.
Leduc County Enforcement Services issued a total of 101 charges and 64 warnings over the August long weekend in 2014.
The county stated peace officers observed a number of motorists traveling at excessive speeds over the course of the weekend, including a motorist traveling 143 kilometers per hour in an 80 km/h zone around 10 p.m. Friday on Range Road 260 near Township Road 510.
But Nelson said, overall, the weekend was relatively uneventful. “It’s one of our busiest (weekends),” said Nelson. “I can tell you after a couple of years of stepping up our public awareness campaigns, I can tell you the number of infractions were down this year.”
Nelson said it appeared, for the most part, on the local roads Leduc County patrols, the rules were followed. Leduc County had between two and three officers out per day over the weekend.
If there was one area of concern this year, Nelson said it was people looking for a party. “I can tell you this year we had an influx of bush parties,” he said.
“Folks are taking advantage of the hot weather. So we had those early challenges this year. So we’re taking a proactive approach when we’re encountering those situations.”
Nelson said he was concerned about youth attending some of the bush parties, as they were apparently below drinking age and had parents who were aware they were at a bush party. He said some parents may be assuming peace officers are going to be looking after kids who are at parties.
“That shouldn’t be the expectation of parents,” said Nelson. He said officers can’t be responsible for taking care of kids at parties, especially when some kids take it too far. “We’re seeing people at these events becoming significantly impaired,” he added.
Nelson noted other concerns about bush parties include vandalism, fire hazard and the privacy of local residents.
Another trend that concerns Leduc County peace officers is the popularity of all-terrain vehicles, or quads. Nelson said the peace officers have tried to step up quad patrols to ensure ATVs are being used safely. Nelson noted that officers did come across some situations on the long weekend involving ATVs, including an operator near a major road who was only wearing some swimming equipment as a helmet.
“I would submit there is a bit of a complacency factor,” said Nelson. “They’re not wearing the safety equipment.” Nelson said peace officers feel ATV operators should be trained to operate their vehicles and wear proper safety equipment to prevent injuries or deaths.
However, looking at the weekend overall in a very busy part of the province, Nelson said peace officers were pleased people traveled safely. “I think most people who were doing that were giving themselves that extra time,” he said. “So I think they were following our advice.
“We got very few complaints, so neighbourly events were down. People were generally more cooperative with each other.”