Overall, Jasper RCMP have received less general calls for service over the summer months compared with last year's numbers.
But they have dealt with an increase in domestic violence calls and other “COVID-related issues”, said Corporal Alex Boucher, Operations NCO.
From June 1 to September this year there were 1,218 general calls for service to Jasper RCMP, compared to 1,528 in 2019. That's a 21 per cent decrease and Boucher attributed it to there being fewer visitors and travellers in the area due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the umbrella of general calls are assaults, and there has been a 27 per cent decrease overall, Boucher said.
However, the pandemic has taken its toll.
The RCMP respond to calls related to the Mental Health Act, a provincial statute or law that applies to people with a mental disorder in some particular situations.
When that happens, RCMP transport the person to a designated Alberta Health Services facility for help.
Boucher said the number of calls are basically at about the same level as last year, but a significant portion happened in that three-month period, especially in the earlier portion before restrictions were lifted.
He said: "People have been depressed, losing their jobs, having suicidal thoughts.
“There's frustration, isolation, with COVID-related restrictions. Some people have lost their jobs, lost financial security.”
Those factors, he noted, can cause friction in relationships, which has led to an increase in calls about domestic violence.
Within that three-month period Jasper RCMP also received 36 calls for service for COVID-related incidents.
That also included, Boucher said, citizens reporting multiple vehicles which had American plates.
"We do check those vehicles the best we can," he assured.
These calls the detachment has responded to, Boucher said, have presented legitimate reasons to be in Jasper.
“It was either people with dual citizenship, and a lot more coming to Canada before the borders shut down, people with work visas,” he said.
In August, Jasper Municipal Council voted unanimously to pass a bylaw to make wearing masks mandatory in indoor public places and some public outdoor places in the downtown area.
In addition to the municipality's bylaw officer keeping track of compliance, Jasper RCMP help out as well.
"I make patrols downtown and I do check for masks," Boucher said. "Sometimes I've stopped and asked people to put masks on. I've given verbal warnings as I patrol downtown."
Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh