On November 17, 2015, the Town of Millet, along with the Wetaskiwin R.C.M.P., Victim Services, COPS and our Community Peace Officer put on a public meeting to discuss ways that we can all work together to protect our community from the recent crime spree.
Over 100 residents filled the Community hall in hopes to find a way to ease their minds and protect their properties. Inspector Fran Bethell, from Wetaskwin RCMP revealed some crime stats for Millet that clearly showed property crimes on the rise in the past year. The reason for this increase has a lot to do with the recent economic times, but she also stated there has been a huge increase in crystal meth users in the area and when someone is addicted to this substance, they will do anything and take anything to support their drug habit.
A lot of the vehicle break-ins were due to vehicles being left unlocked and valuables in the open. She could not say enough how important it is that everyone ensure they lock up their vehicles at night and take out anything of value. She reminded residents that although this is very frustrating vigilante action will not be tolerated and will result in criminal charges. The best way to catch these suspects is for residents to call in ANYTHING they see suspicious and to call IMMEDIATLEY when they see anything.
She also stated that because the call center is located in Red Deer and serves a much larger demographic than just ours, wait times can be longer than expected. She has voiced these concerns to the dispatch management team and they have already made changes to try and rectify these concerns. From now on all calls that come in on Monday-Friday from 8am -5pm will be answered at the Wetaskiwin Detachment NOT the Red Deer call center. This will significantly improve response time. The call center is working on finding ways to improve this on the off hours as well.
It was noted that the policing funds come from the Provincial government and currently there are only 11 members available to our area, our area includes, the County of Wetaskiwin, the Town of Millet and the Summer villages at Pigeon lake. Last year there were 11,000 calls for service in our area. Calls are prioritized based on nature of the complaint. The first priority will always be public safety.
Constable Holly Porterfield spoke on ways to protect your homes and vehicles from theft. Several ideas to protect your homes and vehicles were presented and samples were provided at the back table, which were purchased at minimum cost at the local Canadian Tire store. She encourages people to take extra steps to protect your belongings, a door stop on the inside of your door that will prevent the door from opening from the outside, locks on all windows and doors, including the overhead door, in garages, curtains over windows in garages and more importantly get to know your neighbors!! Knowing your neighborhood and what is and is not normal will help to identify any odd behavior and will also allow your neighbors to see if something is not normal on your property.
Victim Services spoke as to some of the services they provide to victims of crime. They are available to meet with families to lessen the impact of the trauma and assist them in the recovery. They will also be able to prepare victims for any future court proceedings.
Pat Garrett spoke of our local Citizens On Patrol Society (COPS), they are always looking for more volunteers here in Millet. To become a member, one must be cleared by the RCMP, be over 18 years of age and willing to give a minimum of 8 hours per month to drive, walk or bike around town and call in anything suspicious.
Our Community Peace Officer spoke of his powers opposed to that of an R.C.M.P, the main work load for a local Community Peace Officer is to deal with Bylaw complaints and traffic. He has no powers of arrest and if he witnesses any crime, he too would have to contact R.C.M.P. Community Peace Officers are not armed with weapons and cannot enforce anything under the criminal code. 90% of his duties are bylaw complaints, that tend to happen during the day time hours.
Overall, the message was clear, we are all responsible for the safety of our properties, we all have a role, and working together is our best approach to try and deter crime in our community.
Many questions were asked that did not pertain to the municipality or the R.C.M.P, in regards to laws and the justice system. If you want answers in regards to Provincial or Federal laws, it is suggested you contact your local MLA, Mr. Bruce Hinkley at 780-672-0000 or firstname.lastname@example.org or your Member of Parliament, Mr. Mike Lake at 780-495-2149 or email@example.com.
RCMP complaint line 780-312-7267
Emergencies call 911