When the public encounters crime, police should always be notified. That’s the message Wetaskiwin RCMP gave the Rosebrier Rural Crime Watch during the association’s annual general meeting Apr. 4.
Sgt. Guy Perreault said, if you see suspicious activity, the RCMP wants to know about so call the Wetaskiwin detachment complaint line at 780-312-7200. “You’re not going to get us there if you don’t call,” said Perreault to the full house at Angus Ridge Community Hall.
Cst. Charles Lambright was the guest speaker at the AGM. He spoke generally about rural crime awareness and prevention, plus answered a number of questions from the crowd.
Lambright said response time is always an issue when rural calls are involved; in some cases, response time can be up to 30 minutes. He said after a dispatcher takes the complaint call and sends the information to a police officer, other factors can come into play, such as what the officer is currently engaged in and whether the complaint is a threat to another person or damage to property.
He noted police must respond to threats against human safety first, and property threats second.
If you’re on hold when calling in a complaint, don’t hang up, because you’ll lose your place in line. Police also like as much information as possible, so try your best to write down license plate numbers, vehicles descriptions, physical descriptions and any other evidence you may have witnessed.
An important tip for rural residents is to make sure your blue rural addressing sign is clearly visible from the main road. Trim any trees or bushes down so the sign can be easily seen by police, fire and ambulance responders.
One audience member asked if fentanyl, a dangerous opioid sedative, is a problem here. Lambright responded, “We haven’t had a lot of fentanyl problems in Wetaskiwin,” noting that drug seems more prevalent in large urban areas. He said the drug scene in and around Wetaskiwin seems to include meth, cocaine and crack.
“Meth is the biggest one right now, still, because it’s cheap,” said Lambright.
One audience member asked about self-defense during a crime. Lambright said every person is entitled to defend him or herself. He noted though that defending oneself and attacking someone are not the same thing.
Another audience member asked about the admissibility of video recordings as evidence. Lambright said they are very admissible and RCMP love to get video recordings from the public. He said to make sure the camera is mounted relatively low so faces can be seen, as opposed to hats, hoods or hair.
He said it’s a good idea for rural residents to mount cameras in laneways to catch vehicles and license plates.
The audience members also asked which RCMP detachment responds south of the City of Wetaskiwin. Lambright said Wetaskiwin RCMP handle all of the County of Wetaskiwin, while Maskwacis RCMP handle the reserve.
Perreault closed the evening with a few comments. He reminded rural residents it can take time for police to get into the rural area, and it helps for anyone calling the police to have both their rural address and legal land description, plus any other information that makes it easier for police to find a residence.
An audience member asked about poaching, and who should the public call about it? Perreault said both Fish and Wildlife and RCMP have handled poaching complaints in the past.