By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Picture Butte council heard an update from Staff Sergeant Mike Numan highlighting recent statistics and data relevant to the Picture Butte detachment area.
The figures presented during the Feb. 13 meeting of Council were prepared by RCMP statisticians and are then passed down to the detachment level.
S/Sgt Numan oversees the amalgamated Picture Butte and Coaldale detachments. He noted traffic and speeding is one of the biggest concerns for the municipality. Ongoing efforts are being made to address the high volume of observed speeding happening along Highway Avenue. With industrial activity in the area, the issue has caused increased concern over the years.
Councillor Cynthia Papworth, a member of the Picture Butte Chamber of Commerce, has advocated for the Chamber’s support of writing to Alberta Transportation about what can be done about the speeding issue in the Town, as the highway falls under the jurisdiction of the Province. She said the organization is waiting to hear back on what options are available to collect data to support further traffic control, as the frequency of speeding continues to be a public safety issue. “There is a lot of (speeding) going on, it is not just one case,” added Coun. Papworth.
Mayor Cathy Moore said “it was suggested to us that we have police sit within our town for 30 days ticketing people, and then the amount of tickets issued could warrant Alberta Transportation trying to help us out however they can with traffic control.” Moore added, “they can’t lower the speed limit through the Town,” since numbered highways cannot have a posted speed limit below 50km per hour, regardless of whether or not they run through a municipality.
S/Sgt. Numan encouraged the Town to install sensors to capture speed data to provide evidence to support a speed study. Deputy Mayor Henry De Kok noted, “the Town did one two years ago. We had the sensors sitting out for a month,” but this data was not received by the Town.
In terms of public engagements, Numan noted the 2022 Q4 Coffee with a Cop event in Picture Butte was well-received by attendees and proposed the meetings occur annually, “just to get a chance to chat with people,” and keep the lines of communication open.
Numan also reported the RCMP’s annual holiday check stop and anti-impaired driving campaigns were a success, in the sense that they resulted in several license suspensions in the Picture Butte area. “We did a few check stops around Christmas time, without getting into too much, there was a couple of impaired (drivers). So people are still drinking and driving and it’s a concern for every community.”
Updated Provincial sanctions came into effect in late 2020, and have brought more stringent and immediate consequences to alleged impaired drivers without laying criminal charges. Numan said these changes, “make it much easier for us as RCMP to deal with because it is all done at the roadside. We don’t have to take people back to do breath samples.” This has led to a reduction in time spent by officers processing impaired drivers.
“It takes half (of) a shift to process an impaired driver. Now, it’s all done by the roadside, and there are administrative sanctions imposed by the Province,” which are immediate.
“We don’t have a lot of prolific offenders in the town of Picture Butte,” or any habitual offenders residing in Picture Butte which would necessitate targeted reform programs. Numan noted in his delegation, these kinds of habitual offenders are more typical of the Lethbridge and Coalhurst areas. The detachment also utilizes assistance from the Southern Alberta District’s (SAD) crime reduction unit out of Airdrie to deal with prolific offenders in the region. In doing so, the SAD crew is able to allocate more time and resources to a particular group (or groups) of prolific offenders in the Picture Butte detachment area, and across southern Alberta.
“I’m happy to finally say, I got a decision and we now have a blended detachment where all the resources show up on one organizational chart.” Despite the amalgamation, Numan was clear the Picture Butte detachment “will not be closing the detachment here. Nothing changes as I have previously committed (to the Town), we are still going to be providing the same level of service for the front counter here.”
Staff for the amalgamated detachments also includes three roadside supervisors, and three watches for a six-constable per watch staffing arrangement, with a corporal expected to onboard by month’s end.
As additional resources and positions continue to be filled, Numan said, “we are going to run a north/south zone (patrol model) where we will have the corporal decide whether crews will patrol north or south of the (Oldman) River.”
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