Director of Public Safety, Chris Garner presented the department’s annual report to the Municipal District (M.D.) of Bonnyville, Reeve and Council at the Regular Council Meeting on Wednesday. The report shows that in 2017 the M.D. Peace Officers responded to fewer incidents than in 2016.
“Most areas, except for animal control, dog control, and livestock issues have gone, somewhat, down,” explains Garner, “especially in the area of traffic issues.” Along with the rural areas of the M.D., the Public Safety Department provides services to the Village of Glendon, “there was a total of 358 incidents in the M.D. of Bonnyville, that we dealt with, and 79 in Glendon, in 2017.”
There are four different types of tickets issued by the Peace Officers, provincial (speeding), warnings (written without a fine), bylaw (animal control), parking. In 2017 there were over 3,000 tickets issues by M.D. Peace Officers. Ticket revenue is split three ways, the municipality collects some money back on tickets issued by the municipality (for example bylaw), ticket revenue from provincial agencies go all to the Province (for example speeding). “We get roughly 33 percent. The rest is divided up between victim services and the justice system. The remainder of the funds come to us.”
One area of concern, as far as traffic, is Highway 41, the LaCorey road heading up to the Air Weapons Range. Garner explains, “that area has a lot of speeders, aggressive drivers, following too close, passing when unsafe. People are impatient sometimes, especially when you get those chunks of traffic.”
There will be a new program implemented in 2018, the Rural Crime Prevention Program. “One area that we did start this program in 2017, was increasing our presence in areas targeted by criminals,” Garner says Peace Officers have been patrolling known problem areas, such as areas effected by property crime, more frequently. “We also have officers taking a portion of their shift dealing with rural crime concerns.”
Another division of the Public Safety Department is the School Resource Officers, Garner explains, “in 2017 the program continued. We added some additional sessions for students. We have a nice relationship with all the school boards, that we deal with, and they certainly are appreciative of the program.” The program is held in the Northern Lights Public Schools, Lakeland Catholic School District and Conseil scolaire Centre-Est.
“We divide up our officers into different categories, as far as their duties and responsibilities.” The Public Safety Department is looking at changing its shift hours in 2018, says Garner, “we take a look at how oilfield traffic circulates in our area, as well as, our other responsibilities and we come to a happy medium, so that we can provide the best coverage we can, based on our call volume and when we have our complaints come in and at what time frames.” With the statistics from 2017, Garner says there will be some changes, “we’re going to go from 5:00 am to 12:00 am; instead of the 4:00 am to 11:00 pm.” The Director says the change will work better, especially in the summer when there are more complaints later at nights and resolve some of the overtime issues they had experienced in the past. “It’ll also help us with crime prevention, being out there a little later at night,” this will help with the Rural Crime Prevention Program, says Garner.
Garner explains the mission of the Public Safety Department, “committed to providing cost-effective law enforcement and community based services, in an accountable, cost-effective manner that responds directly to the needs of our community.” The school resource officers work under the mission to “work with students to make informed choices through awareness, education and positive role models.”
The Public Safety Department also conducts commercial truck inspections. There were 249 inspections in 2017, down from 338 in 2016. Garner explains Ward 1, Fort Kent area is significantly biggest area for doing truck inspections, “that’s because it’s a bottle neck for doing all the oilfield trucks and tankers that go to Bear Trap.” There are good areas for pulling big trucks over to the side of the road to conduct the inspections, explains Garner. The Bear Trap area and Highway 659 were also popular areas of commercial truck inspections.
Following the presentation, the report is forwarded to the Solicitor General, whom requires the information annually.