Local RCMP held their first open forum

·3 min read

Due to health restrictions, the meeting was conducted online using Zoom communications with a link made available to all Fox Creek residents, providing they had access to a computer with internet services. The meeting was an opportunity for residents to hear about the local crime statistics, performance plan from local officers, with the remainder of the time allocated for a question-answer period.

Community participation for the one-hour session was disappointing at best. Albeit it was the first one held, the lack of public engagement cut the meeting time down to a short 30-minute window. For those who post on Facebook regarding local crime and question what RCMP are doing to curb it, this meeting would have been the time to have all those questions answered. A total of nine people attended, of which three also represent the Town of Fox Creek.

There will be a few personnel changes within the detachment over the next few months. Fox Creek will have two new constables joining, and a new Corporal expected to arrive on March 8, 2021. In the past few years, interim Corporals rotated through the detachment filling the void until a suitable candidate could take on a more permanent position.

As far as local crime statistics, Corporal Lee stated, overall for 2020, persons crimes were down. These entail crimes related to threats to other persons and assaults. However, property crimes have increased, including damage to vehicles, theft of motor vehicles, and break and enter. The break and enters are the highest of our offences and something we will be focusing on over the next year. The overall call volume requesting RCMP assistance for the past year was highest this past summer, and for winter, it was down lower compared to other years, which is suspected to be due to COVID restrictions." As the Fox Creek RCMP covers such a wide area, 80 percent of their calls in 2020 occurred within the MD of Greenview.

As theft of motor vehicles has increased, Corporal Lee did not divulge what specific plan to curb it but did indicate it's on the list as one of their priorities. Like many other communities, Fox Creek has a drug problem, specifically methamphetamine (known as meth). As Lee mentioned, the RCMP is aware of it, but they need more information to act on tips. One example given is a tip that so-and-so is selling drugs on the street. In most cases, that is not enough information for members to act. "For us to obtain a warrant, we need recent, specific and solid information. To have a search warrant approved, we have to prove our case to the Justice of the Peace." When calling in a tip to the RCMP, they need information such as "we saw the drugs, we saw the vehicle and description. In essence, for members to act on a tip, they need visual or physical proof rather than suspicion. Lee added, "If anyone has any information, call the detachment office, our members are more than willing to discuss the situation in private. Should the tip result in an arrest, the caller’s name and information are often kept anonymous and out of court.”

, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press