RCMP having success in reducing drug trafficking in Sylvan

One of the areas Sylvan Lake RCMP has had success recently is charging drug traffickers in town

One of the areas Sylvan Lake RCMP has had success recently is charging drug traffickers in town, RCMP S/Sgt. Gary Rhodes told councillors during a review at Monday night’s meeting.

The detachment’s annual performance plan targeted increasing the number of drug distribution charges. “We had a target of 10 and we’re at 15,” he said, adding there is still time left in their fiscal year. “We expect that to rise in the next three months. We’ve been very successful in that area.”

Reviewing other sections in the five point plan, Rhodes said provincial traffic charges have seen a marked decrease in the last two years.

Another of their target areas was liquor offences. During the summer the town has provided money for extra police officers who don’t answer calls but are in the downtown and beach area. “On any given day we have anywhere from two to six RCMP officers in town (on enhanced policing duties). Over the last few years it’s becoming more difficult to find infractions in that area,” he said. That’s an indication the ‘enhanced’ policing is a real success.

Prisoner counts were down from 188 in 2012 to 72 in 2013. “That shows a lot. There were a lot less disturbances, a lot less activity on the lakefront where people were out of control.”

Another series of statistics, for the calendar year, showed a 19 per cent increase in assaults from 145 in 2012 to 179 last year.

Asked about domestic assaults, Rhodes said the number has gone up “fairly significantly in the past year” but he attributed some of that to more people reporting it. He added there’s a family violence unit attached to the detachment.

Criminal harassment, which often leads to other crimes, was down 30 per cent according to the statistics — from 53 incidents to 37.

Overall person crimes were down by 17 per cent.

Break and enters decreased slightly and mischief to property was also down. “We were successful in stopping the graffiti, we did pick up some people and charge them,” Rhodes said.

Last fall, councillors approved two new RCMP positions that will come online this spring.

A school resource officer will begin in September while another officer will be assigned to a Crime Reduction Unit. That will be “someone who can go at a problem full time. It’s a great resource for one-off crime sprees we have on occasion,” Rhodes said. “One of the other mandates will be to go after drug trafficking.”

He noted, “drug trafficking has been in Sylvan Lake and will continue to be here. When the numbers (statistics) go up, that means we’ve been successful in prosecutions.”