Recently appointed Staff Sergeant and Sylvan Lake RCMP Detachment Commander Andrew Shepherd, visited Council Chambers on Monday evening during a regular Meeting of Council.
Shepherd, who has been an active member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for a numbers of years comes to Sylvan Lake following former Staff Sergeant Gary Rhodes leave.
Shepherd’s extensive policing background spans a vast area with prior postings in Red Deer, Blackfalds and Saskatchewan, as well as postings in both northern British Columbia and the Lower Mainland.
While in attendance at Monday night’s Town Council meeting, the new staff sergeant gave a detailed report on crime in Sylvan Lake and highlighted observations he has made over the past month at his new position.
He explained the Sylvan Lake RCMP were involved in a number of significant incidents since his posting began in early October. Shepherd referenced a recent raid conducted by the RCMP’s ALERT team in late October in which the Sylvan Lake RCMP assisted with search warrants at three local homes. ALERT is a regional policing concept targeting organized crime and drug trafficking.
The investigation led to the recovery of 68 grams of cocaine and multiple weapons – including a MAC-11 subcompact machine gun, and the arrest of three individuals.
“Some serious criminals have been taken out of our community,” said Shepherd during his address in Council Chambers.
He added in early September the Sylvan Lake RCMP were also successful in conducting a search warrant independent from ALERT’s investigations. Four individuals were arrested at a home in Richfield Crescent with a search of the home netting the seizure of methamphetamine, psilocybin mushrooms, morphine and ten firearms including shotguns, handguns and an “Uzi” style assault rifle.
During his presentation to Council, Shepherd included a number of statistics from the Sylvan Lake RCMP’s records indicating trends in both local and regional crime.
“Property crime is driving our crime in Sylvan Lake,” said Shepherd. “When we take a look at other detachments in the central Alberta district they are having the same pressures as we are.”
He added both vehicle theft and theft from motor vehicles continues to be a trend central Alberta struggles with.
Following his address, Shepherd opened the floor for questions. Councillor Chris Lust inquired why recent quarterly reports had shown an increase in overtime hours from members of the detachment.
Shepherd noted big cases such as the ones seen in September and October require a large amount of manpower.
“These big files I was just talking about – there’s significant work that goes on behind the scenes. These are nice headlines when they’re successes but there’s an enormous amount of work that goes on before,” said Shepherd. “When the door blows in, that’s the good stuff and then after there’s an enormous amount of more work to do.”
He added visits to the Red Deer Provincial Court House also tend to eat a large portion of members time.
“Court is a big draw on over time, we have people in almost every day going to court on their days off or working night shifts to prepare – that’s a big pressure,” said Shepherd, adding he has minimums we wants to maintain in the community. “I have a minimum number of members I want on the streets at all times 24 hours a day and seven days a week.”