Rising crime statistics, recruitment, and 911 hang up call volume were top priority in Sergeant Jeff McBeth’s report at the Feb. 6 town council meeting.
“Break and enters are troubling,” said Srgt. McBeth. “Break and enters seem a lot, however are nowhere near the rash in 2009.”
Since the New Year, there have been no domestic violence matters; a total of 15 were reported in 2011.
In January 2012, the RCMP responded to 180 complaints in the region. They breakdown as follows:
- 90 municipal complaints;
- 15 charges - 6 criminal, 9 non-criminal;
- 10 accused from Fox Creek, 10 accused from elsewhere.
RCMP call statistics:
2009 – 589
2010 – 782
2011 – 1200
“I can see us reaching 1500 calls this year. We’re one of the busiest detachments in the province, but we’re also one of the safest in the Western Alberta District,” said Srgt. McBeth. “We’re all busier, there is an increase of activity in the area, it’s great for the economy, but keeps us steady and the statistics increasing.”
He said in 2008, Fox Creek was the 39 busiest out of 109 detachments in the province. In 2009, it placed 29. He predicts this year’s report, anticipated in March, will place Fox Creek in the mid-twenties.
The detachment is actively recruiting one more member, possibly two. Our five member detachment compares to Redwater, the 28th busiest with eight members and Cold Lake, the 27th busiest, with seven members.
Other 2011 statistics:
34 stolen motor vehicles
134 prisoners between March – Dec. 31, 2011. (A second guard was hired)
29 break and enters
15 domestic violence matters
6 assaults in January of 2011 and zero for January 2012.
False alarms and 911 hang-up calls affect the department. “Most people are not aware, we have to respond to every call, and it really takes up a lot of time,” he said. “Nowadays most calls come in on cell phones and the 911 dispatch’s to the cell tower or closest rural location. We have to track down every person.”
He cautions, old cell phones still work, for example if a child is playing with it. “… only if the phone is de-activated and the battery is out,” will you prevent inadvertent calls. “Keep in mind; we also do get legit calls.”
Fire Department Report
Fire Chief Les Paul reported increased calls for the volunteer fire department. Already this year, the department has responded to 12 calls and 13 motor vehicle calls.
Fire Department call statistics:
2005 – 50
2010 – 80
2011 – 130
Highway calls have seen the biggest increase, 45% in 2011, explained Chief Paul.
Recently the firefighters responded to a fire on a rig location, taking an hour and half to get to the scene. “There is a lot of traffic out there and it’s busy,” he said .
So busy in fact, Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) emergency helicopter has a general site location in close proximity to six rigs in the surrounding area.
Manpower remains steady at 20, however only about half of the members are responding to calls due to work commitments. Chief Paul would like to see the numbers back up to 24. Members continue to train in house.
“Recruitment is going to be big for us this year,” he said.
Buildings and safety code violations are a point of concern. “We’re finding not a lot are in compliance and a lot are in bad shape. Either they don’t care, don’t understand or don’t like to do it at our pace,” said Chief Paul. “It’s not easy and takes a lot of time.”
Another concern for the Fire Chief is people setting off fireworks. He would like to remind everyone that it is an Alberta Fire Code regulation and fines are significant, potentially $15,000 . You are not allowed to set off fireworks without a fire permit obtained from the Fire Chief.
“What bothers me, neighboring communities sell the fireworks,” said Chief Paul. “There is a rule, you need a permit. It’s a constant battle and it’s taking a long time to get through to people.”
Implications for Fox Creek
McBeth and town CAO Ken Gwozdz are actively discussing the implications of current and predicted statistics.
In general, although resident population is dropping, emergency service calls are clearly on the rise.