Stettler’s new RCMP commander says embracing community is key

·3 min read

Stettler town council heard their new RCMP detachment commander describe his approach as community friendly.

S/Sgt. Bruce Holliday introduced himself to council at their regular meeting Nov. 2.

Holliday, an 18-year veteran of the RCMP whose last posting was as commander of the Bashaw detachment, arrived in Stettler as non-commissioned officer in charge in August.

He brought along with him the latest municipal police report to discuss with council, which town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky stated was a positive report for the town.

Switenky stated, after looking through the latest crime statistics in and around Stettler, nothing jumped out at him as an emerging issue.

The S/Sgt. reminded councillors that many of the numbers within the report are described as a percentage increase or decrease and that percentages can be somewhat deceiving if the actual numbers are small; for example, if there was only one specific instance the year before, but this year there were three, that could be described as 300 per cent increase.

The commander stated if there’s something going on around Stettler, he will bring the town in quickly to discuss it. “If we have problems, I’ll let you know,” said Holliday.

One part of the report he pointed out was that property crimes, including theft, have increased over the years.

Holliday stated the report is compiled by an RCMP K Division branch in response to a trend that K Division has observed: some detachment commanders are not in regular contact with their mayors and elected officials. Holliday reported that K Division wants that changed.

Holliday noted he likes to remain in contact with the community, and at his last posting in Bashaw he saw cooperation and communication benefit everyone.

Holliday added you can learn a lot from the community by talking to people within that community.

While discussing the staffing level of the local detachment Holliday stated one member is off on a health-related leave and the commander aims to bolster the detachment with extra help to counter this.

The RCMP also have a vacancy in the school resource officer (SRO) position, but again Holliday stated he’s already looking at options to fill this role until a new SRO is settled in.

Holliday stated he’s a supporter of the SRO position as it can have a big impact on the community by helping young people remain successful.

Break and enter

Holliday related an instance that occurred in Stettler Nov. 2, the same day as the council meeting, where a break and enter was reported at the golf course at 2 p.m. in the afternoon.

The S/Sgt. noted a suspect in the incident was already the subject of some concern in the community, while some in the community feel sympathy for this person and have been trying to help out.

However, the suspect, who has no fixed address, has been linked to other thefts in Stettler and with winter coming Holliday said programs and services which could help this suspect are being researched, including housing in Red Deer.

The S/Sgt. noted that mental health issues can sometimes be involved in crime and he would like to see if some suspects are interested in mental health help.

Coun. Gord Lawlor stated he was impressed by Holliday’s community approach and that the commander backs up what he says with actions.

Coun. Cheryl Barros stated she was happy to hear Holliday mention “community” because it’s “exactly right” that the community knows what’s going on.

Holliday closed by noting that he’s going to look into the possibility fo bringing the RCMP Musical Ride to Stettler in the summer of 2022 if possible.

Councillors accepted the RCMP commander’s report for information.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review

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