Although it may seem like crime is rampant in Cold Lake, S/Sgt. Jeremie Landry wants to inform residents that's not the case.
On Tuesday, Dec. 12, Landry reported the RCMP stats from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30 to city council.
During that time, local RCMP responded to 8,673 Police Reporting and Occurrence System (PROS) files. When compared to the previous five years, the number of files remains fairly steady.
For example, in 2013, the Cold Lake detachment opened 8,844 PROS files. That number dropped slightly in 2014 to 8,651, and then again in 2015 to 7,814. The file number increased in 2016 to 8,603 files.
So far, 2017 seems to be on par with how those file numbers break down between files generated in the city, 5,551, and rural areas, 3,122.
Those statistics are similar to 2016, when RCMP received 5,506 files from Cold Lake and 3,097 from rural communities.
Not necessarily a spike in crime, a spike in public knowledge
Landry explained how social media has played a role in public knowledge on crime within the area.
This is why some residents may believe it's running rampant in the city, he said.
“I believe it's amplified when you have social media sites dedicated to informing everyone as to what's going on in the community crime-wise,” Landry expressed, adding the detachment has also started providing media releases on a regular basis.
“This way, people are aware of the good work we are doing and what's going on in their community. People have the right to know,” he continued. “That does though sometimes contribute to an increased fear that people believe crime is rampant, because it is more out there and people are more aware as to what's going on.”
Where the files are coming from
This year, over 64 per cent of files generated are from within the City of Cold Lake, with 3.7 per cent coming out of the Elizabeth Métis Settlement, about 10 per cent from Cold Lake First Nations, and over 22 per cent from the MD.
According to Landry, when looking at how those numbers compare over the years, Cold Lake has remained “quite stable.”
“On the Elizabeth Métis Settlement there has been some minor fluctuations from four to three per cent over the years, and the Cold Lake First Nations has seen some fluctuations there as well,” he added.
The MD has seen the most variation since 2014, with an increase from 18 per cent to 23 per cent.
The calls coming in
Property crime has risen since 2013. In fact, Landry said, 2017 has been their busiest year for these types of files.
Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, the local RCMP has received 388 persons crime files, however, one file may involve two or more crimes. In 2016, they responded to 365 files, the year before was 310, and in 2014 they saw 345 files.
“That is on an upward swing and that's for the detachment in general, for all zones, city and rural,” Landry said.
The same can be said for property crimes, which has risen slightly over the last five years from 1,137 files to 1,285.
“When you compare it to last year, you're only dealing with a difference of 10 calls of service. It's not a significant increase, but it's an increase nonetheless.”
In 2017, the Cold Lake detachment received 110 break and enter, 138 theft of a motor vehicle, 336 theft under $5,000, 61 possession of stolen goods, and 527 mischief to property files.
Number of prisoners is down
Landry explained that even though there has been a minor increase in crime, the total number of prisoners held in 2017 is down with 972.
“We have had some regular clients at the detachment. When you do see them get a jail period, you start to see dips in prisoner numbers because they aren't coming in every two or three days like they used to,” he said.
This count includes when prisoners are initially booked, when they return from the Edmonton Remand Centre for court, or are serving intermittent sentences.
Where the criminals are coming from is widely spread. However, when talking about drugs and organized crime, Landry said the RCMP is seeing a large number of transient individuals who have moved to the area for one reason.
“They're coming to Cold Lake and staying here, in my view, for the purposes of profiting off of our criminal activity and organized crime.”
The cause for crime
When it comes to rehabilitation, Landry explained although there are some success stories, there is “no one answer.”
Some cases come down to feeding an addiction.
“These people are profiting significantly on the sale of illicit drugs. For them, it's a cost-benefit analysis. They may or may not get caught, and they're going to make a fortune,” Landry said. “We also have the issue of people committing crimes to feed their drug addictions. We have people in our area that have serious drug addictions and will do whatever it takes to feed those habits.”
He continued, “Drug addictions are a key component to this, and if we're not providing people with the proper resources to help them curb these addictions, than nothing is going to change.”
Breakdown of officer time
The Cold Lake detachment runs 24-hours with three or four municipal resources on-duty at any given time, along with two or three provincial resources, unless a situation arises that requires more officers.
Nearly seven per cent of officer time is spent dealing with mischief complaints.
Mental health act files take up just over five per cent of officer time.
“The reason why these are so time consuming is we get quite a lot of them for one, and number two, oftentimes it could involve spending quite a bit of time with an individual at the hospital before they're seen by the doctor,” Landry said.
However, time spent on these files could drop now that the hospital has their own peace officers, he added.
Assault cases take up 5.14 per cent of officer time, followed by traffic collisions involving property damage at 4.29 per cent, and other moving traffic violations at 3.5 per cent. Theft under $5,000 files are taking up 3.4 per cent of officer time, with abandoned vehicles not far behind at 3.25 per cent.
Significant arrests and sentencing
Landry touched on some of the success of the RCMP, highlighting the most recent incident on Dec. 6 and 7.
“We, along with Bonnyville RCMP and ALERT resources, executed five search warrants within the City of Cold Lake,” detailed Landry. “We seized over 11-ounces of cocaine in those search warrants, three-ounces of meth, and we also seized one-pound of marijuana, 3.2-ounces of mushrooms, 12 firearms, a taser, brass knuckles, and a crossbow.”
Seven individuals were arrested and charged with over 106 offences in relation to the search warrant, with items that had been reported stolen recovered as well.
RCMP also recovered three stolen boats and additional stolen property in late September. This recovery was valued at over $1-million.
Clearance rate for local the detachment
In the City of Cold Lake the January to November clearance rate for person's crimes was 80 per cent. The provincial average in 2016 was 83 per cent. The clearance rate for property crimes in the city is 32 per cent, which is still above the 2016 provincial average of 28 per cent.