LAKELAND - Cst. Jason Jaques and Harp are taking a bite out of crime across the region.
The dynamic duo, who make-up the Cold Lake RCMP Police Dog Services (PDS) Unit, have had a busy three years chasing suspects and finding missing people throughout their dispatch area, which includes as far south as Wainwright, east to the Boyle and Smokey Lake areas, along the Saskatchewan border up to the bottom of Fort McMurray.
“I would say, because I am posted in Cold Lake, the Cold Lake and immediate surrounding areas are one of the busier ones, but Elk Point is a busy spot too... The benefit for Cold Lake is I am easily accessible for them so there are some calls I might not get called to in different communities but I get called to here,” detailed Jaques.
In 2020, Jaques and Harp were involved in 316 files, 128 stemmed out of the Cold Lake RCMP detachment area. Sixty-seven were within city limits, 25 in the MD of Bonnyville, 16 out of Cold Lake First Nations, and 20 in the Elizabeth Métis Settlement region.
They've been so busy in fact, they've earned the title of Alberta's busiest PDS Unit.
During a city council meeting in late-February, Cold Lake RCMP Sgt. Ryan Howrish said with 912 hours deployed in 2020 alone, it's likely that Jaques and Harp take the top spot across Canada.
“That number is leading the pack in Alberta, but Alberta is busier for (PDS Units), so that number likely puts him in the number one spot for Canada,” he outlined. “Not that he’s competing against anyone, he’s just working hard and so is Harp."
Last year, Harp captured 108 suspects, with his longest track reaching 16-kilometres.
“They give it all, 100 per cent, all of the time,” Howrish said about the pair.
Finding missing people and children "is definitely the most gratifying," Jaques told Lakeland This Week.
"It's a pretty serious event when a child goes missing... Anything can happen."
In March, Jaques and Harp recovered a five-year-old boy who had been reported missing in the Elk Point area.
“Those ones are pretty big, especially finding him... He was on the property, so he wasn’t too far away from his house,” described Jaques. “It was definitely good for the family because he had been missing for about three hours. It was good to reunite him with his family so they didn’t have to worry anymore."
But it's not only bringing lost family members home to their loved ones that makes Jaques' job so satisfying.
He is also passionate about protecting the public and his fellow RCMP officers.
“Some of these offenders can be very violent and such, so it’s good to have them in custody,” he said. “We get these incidents where criminals go on crime sprees and they’re hammering a lot of people and are causing a lot of problems throughout the community, it’s always good when we’re able to catch-up to those people.”
Part of keeping the public safe, is reminding them to leave the pursuing up to police.
“Don’t chase these people. If you see them, just remember where you last observed them... and then tell the members coming to the scene,” stressed Jaques. “As much as they want to catch them... by them chasing them, that can actually hinder Harp’s chances of being successful."
Not only could running after suspects make Harp's job more difficult, it could also put yourself in danger because "a lot of times (these suspects) are armed with weapons or firearms," Jaques noted.