Police pave way for ‘safe Stettler roads’

Safe roads with higher traffic enforcement is one of the top priorities for Stettler RCMP, town council was told last week.

Safe roads with higher traffic enforcement is one of the top priorities for Stettler RCMP, town council was told last week.

Reducing alcohol abuse and property crimes were also listed as RCMP goals for the coming operational year, which begins this month.

“These are the things we concentrate on,” Stettler RCMP Sgt. Duncan Babchuk told council at its regular meeting last week.

Council endorsed the priorities.

“It’s always important that strategies and priorities of council line up with the local police,” Mayor Dick Richards said.

To create safer roads, police hope to deter motorists from committing offences that are related to road crashes and injuries.

Police say they’re committed to increasing the number of traffic charges from 1,060 in 2012 and impaired charges from 46 from 122 reports.

“Alcohol being the No. 1 drug of abuse is a direct cause of 40 per cent of violent crimes in our society,” Babchuk said. “A large majority of our calls for service are alcohol-related.”

Police plan to also step up enforcement of noisy vehicles and motorcycles and tinted windows, he said.

Tinted windows are especially a concern for police, because it creates a sense of suspicion and risk of the occupants inside, council was told.

“I feel they’re hiding something,” Corp. Cam Russell said.

Babchuk recalled one such incident where local police discovered the occupants were drinking alcohol and seized marijuana.

“We have zero tolerance,” he said.

With two highways through the town, traffic remains a major part of the police service.

“Traffic is a daily complaint,” Babchuk said.

While planning to increase the number of charges, Babchuk said he also intends to educate citizens with presentations on alcohol awareness.

To reduce property crimes as the third priority, police encourage citizens to report property crimes and plan to develop an education strategy to ensure effectiveness in solving property offences.

To reduce substance abuse of drugs, police plan to step up to prevent drug abuse among youths by investigating and prosecute offenders involved drug distribution.

While local police continue to respond to an average of 3,200 to 3,500 calls year, domestic violence has become a growing concern, with most cases ignited by alcohol or drugs.

Babchuk urges citizens to immediately report any criminal or suspicious activity to local police.

Community standards

To help curb crime and assist police more effectively, the town plans to discuss the creation of a bylaw to regulate community standards with stiffer fines.

Babchuk initially presented the plan to council last year.

“We need to discuss this with the police and our bylaw officer,” Coun. Leona Thorogood said.

“It’s important that discussion be done and we have a good working relationship with the RCMP,” Richards said.

Last year, Babchuk explained that such bylaws are highly effective in other communities to curb such issues as fighting and loitering, graffiti, spitting and urinating.

Set by council, fines would directly go into town coffers.

“Our Crown counsel suggests that these issues would be better dealt with through a bylaw than with a criminal charge,” Babchuk said. “Some incidents don’t deserve a criminal charge.”

That would also speed up the process that’s often sluggish through the court system, he said.

“It’s a lot more effective,” said Russell, who suggested that fees could be $500 or higher.

“These are common police issues, no matter how hard we work.”

Babchuk said he’s committed to work with the town on such issues.

He believes a bylaw would also help deter fighting in bars.

“If we get a few of these, that would be eliminated,” Babchuk said.

Presented last year, he suggested fines for:

— Fighting in a public place at $500 for first offence, $750 and $1,000.

— Urinating in public at $500, $750 and $1,000.

— Spitting in a public place at $75 and $100.

Last year, the Stettler sergeant also suggested that drinking establishments be fined for unacceptable noise and activity on the premises.

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