Skip to content

Crime rates reduced during this year's Summer Days celebrations

Municipal peace officers report fewer incidents over holiday weekend celebration

For more than sixty years the Summer Days celebrations—formally known as Pow Wow Days—in Lac La Biche County draws thousands to the community for entertainment, carnival eats and activities annually. Unfortunately, with the celebrations sometimes come disorderly conduct and crime. This year a bear spray incident at the carnival midway on the Lac La Biche Recreation Grounds  on July 30 saw two suspects arrested by RCMP and caused over a dozen event attendees to need medical attention, said Chris Clark, the County’s manager of enforcement services. 

“Officers ended up evacuating the midway grounds and organizing a triage area as well as a staging area for incoming fire and EMS resources, and then when we were done at the grounds we decontaminated 15 people there.” 

While the midway was forced to shut down 30 minutes early to decontaminate the site. On the upside, Clark said comparing his 13 years of service to the overall security and safety during the annual Heritage Day long weekend event, reports and crime were down, he said.  

“Actually this year is one of our calmest years compared to other years,” even with the unusual bear spray incident, he added. 

Large police presence 

This year a large peace officer presence monitoring events and keeping the peace was one of the contributing factors, Clark says. 

“We had seven peace officers on at the time as well again in the early afternoon to overnight period,” including seven RCMP officers and support from St. Paul peace officers who helped during the weekend, he added. 

“Typically we don't see those numbers of officers, but for this type of event, obviously if we have a lot of enforcement out it typically reminds people that they need to behave while they're out and about on the weekend. And essentially everywhere we went, there was some type of enforcement or police vehicle.” 

Crime numbers reduced 

In total the enforcement department received 49 calls primarily regarding potentially impaired drivers, speeding vehicles, intoxicated guests at events and loitering. While some tickets were issued, everything was handled effectively. 

“Again it is 100 per cent within the norm for this type of event…We did have a couple of incidents at the midway with intoxicated persons that were arrested. But again nothing like we've seen in previous years.” 

Additionally, with the large officer presence patrolling, staff were able to attend and “observe” issues which also helped mitigate problems,” he added. 

“Our peace officers had 73 proactive encounters. So by proactive encounters, it means encounters that the officer initiated themselves…from doing patrols, traffic stops and them coming across potentially impaired drivers or suspended drivers.” 

One of the biggest wins this year, Clark added was no motor vehicle collision which he says “is the first year in my 13 years here in Lac La Biche during Summer Days we haven't had a motor vehicle collision.” 

Community support 

Wrapping up the festivities, moving forward the public’s overall behaviour, support calling and informing officers to promote the safe community event was a huge help. 

“We would like to thank everybody for making sure that they were being safe during the weekend…also the public for reporting suspicious events and calling the police or peace officers when needed. That helps us curb some of the events and we are able to identify issues ahead of time.”