ELK POINT - The first delegation to visit Elk Point’s newly elected town council brought welcome news for the community.
Elk Point RCMP Sgt. David Henry told Mayor Parrish Tung and council that he now has a full staff of nine constables and two corporals in addition to himself, and “It is the first time the detachment has been fully staffed in many years.”
The detachment is also hiring a third administration person to help cope with the substantial amount of paperwork.
The full complement of officers has been hard at work, he said, “and we’re doing quite well. In the last three weeks, the top 15 people we were looking for are now in jail, between us and Cold Lake, some for long term, some not. There were lake break-ins and we picked up that crew.” He noted that people calling in to report suspicious activity “gives us a heads up and saves us extra minutes” in apprehending the culprits.
The sergeant gave council a rundown on crime statistics, assaults were down 25 per cent, break-and-enters down 24 per cent, person crimes are down 11 per cent, property crimes are down 20 per cent, and all criminal code crimes are down 21 per cent. Statistics were for January to date.
One thing that is “a bit disturbing” to the sergeant is that mental health incidents are up 107 per cent in the second quarter of 2021 from 2020, “which is significant for us. Mental health issues are spiraling out of control, there’s a lot of trauma and a huge amount of hatred,” much of it regarding conflict between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
Discussing Sgt. Henry’s visit later in the meeting, Mayor Tung said that when it was first announced that a new detachment would be built, he wanted it to be for 14 members, “but they would only make if for the present staff of 11 at that time plus one.”
Deputy Mayor Dwayne Yaremkevich noted, “It’s the first time I can remember that they had a full staff, that’s so good.”
The crime statistics impressed the rest of council, with Coun. Tim Smereka saying, “the numbers really paint a picture.” And Coun. Wanda Cochrane agreeing that “it’s nice to see crime going down and that they have a full staff.”
Coun. Jason Boorse added that, “it makes us feel safe.”
County of St. Paul
Henry also took time the following day to speak with the newly elected County of St. Paul council during their regular Nov. 9 meeting, relaying a number of the same messages.
He noted that the district has seen Elk Point as a priority, and in the past, the detachment has felt overrun. But, with a full slate of staff, things are looking up.
Henry also spoke to the concerning trend that shows a significant increase in mental health calls. He noted that he suspected the increase was in part due to the pandemic and a lack of contact between people.
Many of the mental health incidents are violent and many include individuals with suicidal tendencies.
Henry also offered similar statistics to County council regarding a decrease in crime in a number of areas, he acknowledged it wasn't perfect, but progress is being seen.
"I think we're moving in the right direction," said Reeve Glen Ockerman.
Coun. Kevin Wirsta asked about past reports that pegged the Elk Point RCMP detachment as having the highest crime severity index, and wondered if that had changed.
"We are still getting drive-by shootings," said Henry, adding, members still deal with lots of calls involving firearms, but the severity index has dropped to about fourth or fifth overall in the province.
He reiterated that many of the people responsible for some of the more serious crime are in jail right now.
During discussions with County council, Henry stated this was the time of year where RCMP receive an increase in reports of lake lot break and enters. Laurier Lake specifically has experienced some recent break-ins.
In one incident, firearms were stolen. But, RCMP have arrested those responsible and they are now in jail. The stolen firearms were also recovered.
Henry also alluded to a project that is set to take place in the Laurier Lake area to help address lake lot break-ins.
Council commended the detachment for the hard work being done.
"Keep up the good work," said Coun. Darrell Younghans.