By Emily Jaycox For the Independent
By all indications, crime rates in Stettler have declined in the past year, instead of rising, as they have in some Alberta communities.
“I don’t feel that we’re inundated (with crime) but we’re subject to the smaller thefts and break-and-enters that any small community would face,” said Stettler Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky.
Occasionally, there are larger drug busts in Stettler as well, he says.
On Oct. 30, Stettler RCMP searched a Stettler residence and laid charges against two individuals for possession of meth and cocaine with the purpose of trafficking.
There was a murder in Stettler in April 2018. Police arrested the alleged man responsible, who stands trial in early 2019 Red Deer on charges of second-degree murder.
Crime rates have been increasing in some Alberta communities, according to Maclean’s “Canada’s Most Dangerous Places 2019” list, published Nov. 5.
With a population under 10,000, Stettler didn’t receive a ranking.
For some communities, higher rates of crime may be due to the recession in recent years.
“I don’t think we’ve been immune to those economic factors,” said Switenky.
Switenky says Stettler wasn’t as “hot” for the increases the communities along the QEII corridor saw.
“For now, we’ve been blessed with having a relatively low crime rate.”
Stettler is an engaged community that takes pride in working to be safe, says Switenky.
“Like anywhere else, the entire community has to make a difference in assisting police.”
The town now has a crime map on its website, used with permission of the RCMP.
The maps gives the public a greater awareness of issues in the community so they can take precautions, such as locking doors, says Switenky.
“It gives you a bit of a gauge, of a pulse of this element in our community.”
According to Sgt. Phil Penny, the Stettler RCMP will receive crime statistics for 2018 from an analyst in late January or February 2019.
He declined to make further comment at this time.
Switenky confirmed that council expects a report in March, and although other communities receive monthly or quarterly crime stat reports, Settler town council does it annually.
The RCMP does report to council on a regular basis about issues affecting citizens, says Switenky.
The Stettler RCMP’s 2017-2018 policing priorities include intelligence-led policing and violence in relationships.
So far this year, the Heartland Victim Services (HVS) has received about 120 referrals, according to Pat Hamilton, executive director.
About 30 percent of the referrals they receive are related to domestic violence, which can involve criminal charges.
“Police in most instances now are required to lay a charge,” said Hamilton.
HVS handled 205 files in 2017.
“The crime rate in Stettler has gone down this year,” said Hamilton.
“That’s a positive.”