School Resource Program continues to grow
On Wednesday, Director of Public Safety, for the Municipal District (MD) of Bonnyville, Chris Garner presented Council with Public Safety’s 2016 year-end report. Overall, there were less tickets and incidents than in previous years; there would be a number of factors that account for lower stats, including the economic downturn, Garner explains.
In 2016, Peace Officers handled 4,636 incidents, down from 5,028 in 2015 and 2014. “In 2015 and 2014, we had quite busy years for us, especially. So, we did anticipate that we would be down,” says Garner. Tickets written were also down for 2016, explains Garner, “it is a little heavier, this year, for warnings. We did have a discussion this year with all the staff to explain the economic situation. So the [officers] were taking that into account, when deciding what to do with violations.” Garner explains officers were advised to use compassion and to think about the economic situation some people may be in; thus a lot more warnings were written. “55% of what we wrote was Provincial tickets, 43% were written warnings, 2% were bylaws and [the remainder] were parking tickets (9 total).”
Along with enforcing MD bylaws with Ward Beat Officer, industry traffic control with Industry Relations Officer, the MD provides a valuable program to local schools, through the School Resource Officers. School Resource Officers visit 24 local schools and provide a variety of programming and education to the students. The school program’s mission is to, “assist students in making informed choices, through awareness, education and positive role modelling.” In 2011, the program was awarded a Friends of Education Award for the work that the officers do. Last year, more programs and more schools were added to the rotation.
MD Officers all work different shifts, explains Garner, “between about 4:00 am and 11:00 pm, there’s different shifts working and those hours do get extended; especially during the summertime.” There are three officers, each working in different Wards in the MD, “two Wards, together, have their own officer who never leaves that geographic area during his shift. We also have four officers that offset each other, two per shift, that work seven days a week.”
In 2017, Public Safety anticipates grant funding that’ll help launch a Crime Prevention program. “We’re pretty excited that it’s going to be effective. Pretty similar to how the school officer program took off and was effective in the schools. We’re hoping that this program does the same thing for our farmers and our residents, and our industrial and commercial subdivisions.”
After presenting to Council, the report is forwarded to Alberta’s Solicitor General. The report will be available on the MD website after it is submitted to the Solicitor General.