Bentley crime strategy meeting gives information
By June Norvila
A local community policing information night was held for Bentley area residents the third week of March in the old Bentley Community Hall.
Bentley town council had organized the meeting.
Presenters were Sylvan Lake detachment commander Staff Sergeant Gary Rhodes and Sergeant Jeff McBeth as well as Lacombe County Senior Peace Office Julian Veuger and Peace Officer Brett Miller.
Both groups tried to clarify their roles within the community and explained what they can and cannot do. Peace officers have no authority in criminal activity or complaints.
The RCMP consider Bentley a safe community. Statistics presented showed Bentley was down in total offences from 2014 to 2015. The number of drug possession offenses and trafficking offences didn’t change, nor did impaired driving offenses. Criminal code offenses like arson counterfeiting, bail violations, breach of probation and disturbances actually dropped 23%. Homicide, robberies, assaults, and sex offences dropped by 65%. The only area that increased in Bentley was break and enters, vehicle thefts, and fraud. It had climbed over the year by 22%.
About 80% of Lacombe peace officers duties are Monday through Friday with patrol hours approximately ten hours per day five days per week. Other hours are spent on weekends and for special events and emergencies.
They gave tips on how to make the community safer like businesses leaving a light on in their business at night and not blocking windows with posters or ads.
There seems to be a perception that police are not around enough, but middle of night patrols are probably not seen, and if around too often there would be complaints about that too.
RCMP asked residents to report any and all suspicious activity or crimes, but not by calling 911. Call the Sylvan Lake detachment directly at 403-858-7200. Files can be collected, and some information from one report might tie in with another report and help solve a case.
Most attendees felt they better learned the difference between the RCMP and local county peace officers and that they may be patrolling more often than thought.
During the two-hour session people were given the chance to ask questions.
When asked what the biggest problem in Bentley was, some answered thefts. Others consider traffic to be a bigger concern.
It was considered to be a fairly good turnout with 38 town residents and 19 county residents signing the attendance book, and some probably missed signing in. Most of council and some staff were there.
“It was very informative. I am glad I went. I wish more had come,” said business owner/home owner Sheila Kelba-Warawa. “It helped me understand their duties better and how to try to protect my business.”
Some felt the RCMP did not fully answer the questions they asked.
One comment was that some of the people that complain the most didn’t bother to attend the meeting and they may have learned a lot if they had come.
Some felt a full time policeman might fix the problem but that would be “unrealistic logistically and financially”, stated Joan Dickau.
Special bolts to attach license plates that need a special tool to undo them were handed out.
It was agreed that things happen in cycles and that a bad economy is sometimes a driver of increased crime.