By Stu Salkeld The Stettler Independent
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to note the Big Valley item and problem residence item are two different issues, not a single issue as originally stated. The Stettler Independent sincerely apologizes for any confusion.
County of Stettler council received an interesting update on crime in the area from Stettler’s head Mountie during their regular meeting Sept. 13.
Sgt. Phil Penny, NCO in charge of the Stettler detachment, said he was happy to appear before council and give an update on police activities in the rural area.
Some of the conversation revolved around one topic: an issue in the Big Valley area. The RCMP commander noted police have cooperated with various agencies to find a solution to a strain that this Big Valley issue was causing Stettler RCMP.
Penny said he has followed up with EMS, and pressure has been relieved by spreading the work around. He stated there had been times when emergency services had been going to the wrong place.
Switching gears, Penny also discussed a seperate and distinct issue, a residence in the County of Stettler that’s been causing some problems. Please note this has nothing to do with the Big Valley area.
The RCMP commander said he’s not taking anything for granted though when it comes to this residence. As the public sometimes wonders what takes so long when it comes to investigations or arrests, Penny said he’s planning a town hall meeting for residents of the area to clear the air about this issue. He said it’s important to let the public know about realistic expectations and realistic response times.
Sgt. Penny said he himself has responded to calls at this residence. “We’re not ignoring these people,” said Penny. “They’re not left to their own devices.”
Councilor James Nibourg said local residents are fed up with this location and the people associated with it. He said some local residents are talking about doing something about it themselves.
Sgt. Penny suggested anyone talking about vigilantism should calm down and remember whatever they do, they will have to explain to a judge later.
He also pointed out victims of crime should consider the value of stolen property compared to someone’s safety, even a suspect in a crime. “I don’t think anybody’s life is worth a piece of property,” said Penny.
The third point Sgt. Penny wanted to make is for local residents to secure their property. He said it’s not uncommon for victims of crime to leave houses, garages or vehicles unlocked with valuables in sight.
Reeve Wayne Nixon noted that the property in question could possibly be in violation of one or more bylaws, such as the number of trailers allowed on one property. Nixon said the bylaw approach to this problem had the complication of the County of Stettler balking at the thought of sending its community peace officer out to that particular location alone.
Penny said police would be happy to escort the CPO to that property anytime.
The conversation then shifted to Botha. Councilor Greg Jackson said there are concerns about speeding in the hamlet, particularly near the school.
Sgt. Penny confirmed the problem, and said police had already got information from witnesses who knew who the speeder was and which vehicle was involved. Police are even getting information on what time of day the speeder chooses to burn by the school.
Police have caught up to the suspect, ticketed him and told him the community is watching him.
The commander said a benefit to small town policing is that everyone knows everyone else. “It’s so much more helpful,” said Penny.
Councilors accepted Penny’s report for information.