Tuesday, 18 December 2012 08:54

Swift Current RCMP wants to keep impaired drivers off the road

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The Swift Current RCMP is planning to keep impaired drivers off the road during this festive season. Staff Sgt. Al MacDonell of the Swift Current City RCMP is hoping that people will act responsibly when they go out to celebrate during this Christmas period.

“We'll have a number of check stops up and around in the community and focusing obviously on impaired driving,” he cautioned.
His advice to residents is to have a plan in place when they attend an office party or any other festive event where they might consume alcohol. This can include the use of a taxi or a designated driver to ensure they get back home safely afterwards.
MacDonell made these suggestions during his appearance at the City of Swift Current council meeting on Dec. 10 to present the community policing report, which indicated the number of offences recorded by the RCMP in the city until the end of November.
The report showed 11 impaired driving offences in Swift Current during November 2012 compared to 12 for the same period in 2011 and seven in November 2010. For the year to date until the end of November there were 96 impaired driving offences compared to 93 for the same period last year and 101 in 2010.
There were only 17 reportable vehicle accidents for November 2012 compared to 57 in November 2011 and 43 in November 2010.
“I double checked those numbers and those are accurate,” he said. “I can only attribute that to possibly the road conditions and the weather were maybe a little more cooperative this November than in the previous two Novembers.”
That number also impacted on the year to date numbers, which are 357 for the year to date in 2012 compared to 395 in 2011 and 386 in 2010.
There has been a significant increase in the number of Mental Health Act files this year, with 154 recorded for the year to date compared to 108 for the same period in 2011 and 103 until the end of November 2010.
“No real explanation for that,” MacDonell noted. “Hopefully that's just a spike that we'll see corrected next year. We'll keep an eye on that category.”
There was also an increase in the number of offences recorded under the category for other Criminal Code violations. There were 509 cases until the end of November compared to 408 for the same period in 2011 and 399 in 2010.
MacDonell said the reasons for this increase were twofold. The RCMP received more disturbance type calls but a more significant contribution was the breaching of court orders as a result of efforts by police officers to check up on offenders after their release.
“I guess you can couple that with our crime reduction initiative,” he noted. “Our members will regularly do what's called door knocks in which we will go and attend residences of people who have been released on court orders, just to make sure that they're abiding by those particular court orders”
This year has seen a drop in violations in a number of categories. There were 21 sex offences reported until the end of November compared to 36 for the same period in 2011 and 25 in 2010.
“Last year appeared to be a bit of a spike in that particular category,” he said.
The robbery, extortion and harassment category had 118 reported for the year to date compared to 151 in 2011 and 173 in 2010. MacDonell said about 95 per cent of the complaints in this category are related to the uttering of threats.
The number of assaults reported this year until the end of November is down, with 142 in 2012 compared to 175 in 2011 and 169 in 2010.
“Again a very positive number and we're happy to see that,” he said.
He noted that 45 per cent of the reported cases in the theft under $5,000 category are a result of thefts from vehicles. That category has remained quite consistent over the past three years, with 318 incidents in 2012 until the end of November, 272 in 2011 and 355 in 2010.
“I continue to harp to our citizens about taking your valuables out of your vehicles,” he said.
According to MacDonell the thieves are becoming more bold to get hold of valuable items inside vehicles. Two years ago the bulk of these thefts were from unlocked vehicles, but over the last six months to a year the RCMP has noticed more cases of broken windows on locked vehicles.
There were 26 reported cases of break and enters into businesses for the year to date until the end of November, which is an increase from the 21 cases last year and the 19 incidents in 2010 for the same period.
“We had a bit of a rash of them in the first six months of the year, which kind of brought our numbers up this year,” he said. “Over the last five or six months I would say it's been quite consistent.”
MacDonell highlighted two significant drug seizures that recently took place in Swift Current. On Oct. 19 a significant amount of marijuana was found in a residence along with some hash oil and an undisclosed amount of cash when officers carried out a search warrant. A male and female adult are both facing charges of drug trafficking and a number of other related charges.
Another drug search on Nov. 15 at a residence resulted in the discovery of a substantial amount of marijuana along with ecstasy, bath salts and an undisclosed amount of cash. A male will be appearing in court on Jan. 8 on charges of trafficking and other related charges.
During the Dec. 8 to 9 weekend a number of businesses in Swift Current were victims of a scam involving counterfeit American bills. Two people were later arrested in Lethbridge after they also used counterfeit bills there, in Medicine Hat and in other communities to pay for various items.
In response to a question from Councillor Pat Friesen about crime levels in Swift Current compared to other cities in the province, MacDonell said violent crime is considerably lower  in Swift Current while the city's property crime is fairly consistent to those of other communities with similar population numbers.

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