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Okotoks RCMP seeing increase in call volume

The local detachment said it was particularly focused on enhancing visibility, public confidence and engagement and crime reduction in the first three months of 2022.
Okotoks RCMP will focus on crime prevention, employee wellness and enhanced visibility over the next year.
Okotoks RCMP will focus on crime prevention, employee wellness and enhanced visibility over the next year.

Members of the Okotoks RCMP have been busy. 

The detachment has responded to more than 1,000 calls in the first three months of 2022, ranging from property crime to speeding, assault and more, according to its Q4 report which was presented to Town council June 13. 

S/Sgt. Zane Semaniuk said as establishments return to pre-pandemic levels and patrons are out later and consuming alcohol longer, call volume has increased. 

“Everything’s started to creep up again," he said. 

Apart from responding to day-to-day calls, Okotoks RCMP has placed focus on three priorities in recent months: enhancing visibility, public confidence and engagement, and reducing crime overall. 

From January to March, officers conducted eight check stops, four of which were partnerships with Okotoks Municipal Enforcement. During those stops, 118 written warnings and/or violation tickets were issued. 

RCMP has also conducted seven foot patrols in the downtown area during that time, according to the report. 

In the way of public engagement, Semaniuk wrote that 10 "connector chats" were held in Q4, where members met with community groups and partners to establish personal connections which lacked during the pandemic. 

On the commitment to crime reduction, Okotoks RCMP undertook 22 compliance checks on individuals in the community with court-imposed conditions. Seven people with outstanding arrest warrants were taken into custody as a result. 

Criminal Code offences in town were up 37 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same time a year earlier, although that figure had declined seven per cent in 2021.

Similarly, nearly all percentage changes year-over-year show decreases, except for the "Other Provincial Acts" category, which includes the Liquor Act, Cannabis Act, Mental Health Act and all other provincial statutes. 

Okotoks RCMP and other members of the force across the country could soon be equipped with body-worn cameras, according to a document attached in the report. A field test with up to 300 cameras is set to be conducted by members of Alberta's K Division, Nova Scotia's H Division and Nunavut's V Division, in a variety of settings. 

"The video evidence collected will provide an independent, unbiased and objective way to capture interactions between the community and police officers," the release said.

Officers will be expected to activate their cameras during calls, including those relating to mental health, interactions with people in crisis, crimes in progress, public disorder and protests, for investigations and to record information to support the performance of their duties. 

According to the RCMP, the decision to turn on a body-worn camera will happen prior to an officer arriving on scene. When possible, officers will inform patrons they are being recorded. 

"Everyone is looking forward to having [the cameras]," Semaniuk said. 

RCMP has also released an app that allows Albertans to report a crime, contact a detachment and learn about crime rates in their area. The Alberta RCMP App can be downloaded in the App Store or via Google Play. 

Lauryn Heintz

About the Author: Lauryn Heintz

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