Many crimes in St. Albert saw a drop between January and March of this year compared to the same time frame in 2021, according to RCMP.
On July 4, St. Albert RCMP Insp. Ryan Comaniuk presented the most recent policing update to council, showing that many categories of crime had dropped in the early months of this year.
Total Criminal Code offences had dropped 16 per cent from January to March in 2022 compared to the same months in 2021, from 936 to 790.
Persons crimes, which include assault and domestic abuse, saw a drop of seven per cent, going from 231 to 215 offences. Property crime dropped by 11 per cent, from 508 offences to 453.
Collisions in the city were up 32 per cent in the three-month window compared to 2021 and Comaniuk said it was due to a “pretty brutal winter with lots of freezing rain and snow.”
“We don't know that that increase will carry through the spring,” Comaniuk said.
Residents may also be pent up from staying home during the pandemic for two years, Comaniuk said, and rushing to get to their destinations.
Comaniuk said it is too early to tell if COVID had an impact on any particular area of crime and RCMP will need to look into those numbers.
“Time will tell the tale there. We will have to take a closer look at that,” Comaniuk said.
Right now the RCMP is hitting a snag when it comes to staffing, as many officers are off on parental leave, special leave, and off with injuries. Comaniuk said the detachment is running 10- to 15-per-cent below the number of established members they typically have.
“There are also additional pressures in the summer months with officers taking ... holidays,” Comaniuk said.
The inspector told council he hopes the recent pay increase for RCMP officers will have a positive impact on recruitment and retention. The depot division of the RCMP, the group that hires and trains officers, is not running nearly close to capacity, Comaniuk said.
“Hopefully that starts to see some positive changes there and recruitment starts to ramp up because there is going to be an inventory issue here eventually,” Comaniuk said.
Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette