Following a trend with the rest of the province, Wetaskiwin has seen a significant increase in crime over the last year.
Insp. Fran Bethell, Wetaskiwin RCMP, gave a small presentation at city council’s Feb. 22 meeting to go over 2015’s statistics and a 2015/2016 performance report.
Bethell says the city’s RCMP has seen a momentous increase in calls for service. “We’re seeing an increase pretty much across the board to some extent.”
One of the major concerns for the RCMP is property crime, which has gone up dramatically across Alberta.
In 2015, Wetaskiwin RCMP reported 137 break and enter to residences and 60 break and enters to businesses. There was 100 and 45 in 2014, respectively.
Shoplifting increased from 108 in 2014 to 164 in 2015; theft from a motor vehicle went up to 157 from 95; mischief increased to 593 from 489; while reports of assaults increased by 44 to 380 reports of sexual assault decreased by six to 30. Reports of impaired drivers went up from 88 to 128; traffic accidents increased to 728 from 690 and reports of missing persons increased from 223 to 332.
Bethell says the RCMP is continuing to focus on impaired driving and just because there were so many more incidences in 2015 does not mean there are more drunk drivers on the road. “It means we caught more.”
“People continue to not get the message,” she added.
Bethell told council the highest reading the RCMP saw last year was 0.32 and found some students were being dropped of at school by impaired drivers.
Council questioned why there were so many missing persons in 2015.
Bethell says the vast majority of missing people are runaway youth and the community has some chronic runaways who go missing at night are returned the next day only to run away again. She explained each incident is a separate case with its own number.
Last year, Wetaskiwin RCMP also brought in resources for a drug operation with surveillance and on Dec. 8, 2015 executed two search warrants, leading to the arrest of multiple people involved in a cell phone drug operation. RCMP found 100 grams of cocaine and four grams of crystal meth among other related items.
Over the last few months the RCMP also started a program working with those in the community who lead high-risk lifestyles to have discussions about lifestyle changes.
“We’ve reached out to them, we’ve registered them,” said Bethell.
Each year around this time the Wetaskiwin RCMP also develop community policing priorities. Council approved keeping a public survey created by the RCMP for this initiative to look over, hoping to set up a meeting in the near future to discuss priorities.