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Crime numbers continue to fall in Westlock

Staff Sgt. curious to see what happens after COVID-19 restrictions lifted
WES RCMP winter 2021 IMG-7093
Property crimes, like break and enters, are down to start 2021 — a trend Westlock's top cop wonders will continue after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

WESTLOCK – For the first month of 2021, offences like break and enters and thefts under $5,000 are down 67 per cent compared to 2020 — a trend Westlock’s top cop wonders will continue post COVID-19. 

Westlock RCMP Staff Sgt. Al Baird presented the January 2021 crime numbers to town councillors at their Feb. 22 regular meeting and although person offences, like assaults and harassment, remain on par with 2020 (11 in 2021 versus 10 in 2020), Criminal Code cases are down three files and property crimes have plummeted by 45 files (67 per cent).

For the first month of 2021 there were only two break and enters compared to 13 in 2020, while there’s only been a half-dozen theft under $5,000 cases in 2021 compared to 20 the previous year. There’s been no fraud cases reported so far in 2021 versus 12 in January 2020, while mischief cases are also down, with 12 reported this year versus 17 last January. There’s been two thefts of motor vehicles, which is the same as 2020, and no possession of stolen goods charges compared to three last year.

“We’re still seeing a decrease coming down which is nice to see, however, I’m curious to see what’s going to happen once COVID flattens out and we return to a more normal life,” Baird told council.

Baird said work has started on the annual performance plan with March 31 eyed as the date it’ll be finalized. Consultation forms have been sent to the town, Westlock County and Village of Clyde for input as last year’s had crime prevention No. 1, followed by enhance public confidence and engagement, with more specific initiatives listed under each.

“So if we’re talking community engagement, what kind of community engagement would you like to see? Town halls, presentations to Rotary or seniors groups … We have crime reduction initiatives, what specifically would you like to see? I’d like to try the lock it or lose it campaign this year with the COPs (Citizens on Patrol),” he said.

“If you can take some of those things into consideration that way it makes it more our plan as a community, not just the RCMP’s plan. Policing is only an extension of the community. With your help and everyone’s help that’s what makes policing better.”

Added mayor Ralph Leriger: “We will spend some time on our annual performance measures and ensure we do a good job. I think it’s important. We appreciate your efforts.”

Coun. David Truckey also took the chance to thank the RCMP on behalf of the community.

“I’ve had the opportunity to call into 911 two or three times in the last month and I have to compliment not only the intake, but the members,” said Truckey. “They promptly called back and then came to the situation, checked things out … I really appreciate the service that all the members have been doing. It’s been really cold in the last couple of weeks and they came running during the fire downtown — the members were there really quickly and helped a couple of fellows as the landing of the building that was on fire. I was really proud to see them there doing a really great job for our town.”

George Blais, TownandCountryToday.com