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Offender management and police visibility top Barrhead RCMP plan

County of Barrhead councillors sign off on 2024 Barrhead RCMP's policing priorities
Barrhead RCMP Cpl. Filipe Vicente updated County of Barrhead councillors on the plans to replace its aging detachment building.

BARRHEAD - County of Barrhead councillors signed off on the Barrhead RCMP Detachment's annual performance plan (APP) for the region.

The APP is a document that outlines the detachment's policing priorities. It is created by the local RCMP detachment, with input from the municipal governments that it serves, as part of the police force's public engagement component. 

On Feb. 6, Barrhead RCMP Cpl. Filipe Vicente presented his plan for the detachment to councillors, which highlighted police visibility and offender management as its main areas of focus.

Last week, Vincente and now retired Sgt. Bob Dodds presented the same plan to Woodlands County council, which they approved.

Dodds has since retired. Vicente will serve as the detachment's interim CO until Sgt. Colin Hack arrives.

'K' Division announced that Hack, currently in charge of the RCMP's provincial dog units, would serve as the next Barrhead Detachment commander.

In 2023, visibility and drug enforcement topped the detachment's priorities in the APP.

Vicente said he proposed much of the same this year, noting he wanted to continue visibility as one of the detachment's top priorities; however, he suggested offender management might be a better fit for the second priority.

"As some of the work that we did in 2022 and all the drug houses that got shut down, the opportunity to do the same type of work has gone a bit sideways and is not there, at least not readily," he said, adding such work takes a lot of time to get to a point where it is actionable.

Vicente added that is why he believes it is time to replace the second APP priority with offender management.

He said that often, a suspect is released on conditions while awaiting trial, or someone has been charged and convicted, their sentence frequently includes probation, and it behoves the police to ensure they are adhering to the conditions of their release.

"We do a lot of it, but this year, we want to step it up and keep a real close eye on these people and ensure that if they are supposed to be home from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. to do some checks to make sure they are there where they can't get into trouble," Vicente said, adding that it is often the failure of adhering to conditions that lead to a person's incarceration.

Reeve Doug Drozd interjected, saying checking on an offender's status was a valid method of policing.

New detachment building

Vicente said the RCMP are still on schedule to break ground sometime this spring on a new detachment facility.

"[Yesterday afternoon] I spent some time picking out the furniture for two rooms and the development permit. The development permit is already in the works, and it will be going to tender sometime in March, with hopes to break ground sometime in May," he said.

The new building has been in the works to replace the current building, which has roof issues, and its cell area no longer meets current requirements, so any prisoners needing to be detained are housed at the Westlock RCMP Detachment.

Vicente said the building will be "one of a kind" and net zero, featuring a geothermal heating/cooling system, adding electricity would be provided through solar panels, including electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for the use of potential EV police vehicles in the future.

Drozd interjected, saying he hoped the building would still connect to the electricity grid.

"As long as it has grid backup," he said. "They can have their little science experience as long as they can fall back on the tried and true system because we don't want you in the parking lot working out of tents."

Use of drones

Vicente said the RCMP are also investigating the potential use of drones at the detachment level.

He noted that the force has long utilized remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), more commonly known as drones, to support specialized units, such as emergency response teams.

"They are being used in the U.S. to supposedly great response, lowering response times and missed calls," Vicente said, adding fixed wing aircraft and helicopters will always have a place in policing. 

Barry Kerton,

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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