Strong year for Olds RCMP, CO says

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Olds RCMP not only met their crime fighting targets, they exceeded them, according to commanding officer Staff Sgt. Joe Sangster.

Sangster made that comment during a visit to Bowden town council.

He noted last year, after checking with council, his priorities were drugs, traffic rules enforcement and increasing the visibility of police in the community.

“My guys exceeded all my expectations on that. Targets have been met and passed actually,” Sangster said.

“Our office – we had a good year. The guys worked hard,” he said. “Now everyone’s just catching up. Hopefully (the) Christmas (period) will stay slow and then the guys can enjoy Christmas a little bit and in the new year get back at it again.”

He cited the crime reduction team as an example of that success.

We just recently last week did a search warrant,” he said. “That individual did a break and enter. We recovered some stolen property; also recovered some stuff we didn’t lose – theft of mail from a mailbox in the rural area.

“We’ve got 25 or 30 charges we’re laying on too. An adult male and a female in that, so that was a plus,” Sangster said.

Councillors said there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of crime.

Sangster agreed.

“It doesn’t stop,” he said. “You put one away and then there’s just another one that pops up into place.”

However, Sangster said there does seem to be a bit of a break in the action at the moment.

“Our habitual offenders – for the most part – are now in remand and things are quieted down for us, which is nice,” he said.

“Our members are trying to catch up – catch up on all the paperwork. In Olds in the summer when we did our undercover operation and we laid 61 charges and arrested 11 people, we’re still working on it.”

He said in the new year, the Olds RCMP detachment will continue focusing on targeting habitual criminals and facilitating teamwork between local RCMP detachments.

Sangster agreed with councillors that vehicle theft is a big problem in the Olds detachment area.

“You’re double compared to last year, but you have one local resident here who’s responsible for 40 to 50 per cent of them and the individual has been charged each time,” he said.

“Every vehicle here has been recovered and it’s usually mostly joyriding – going to Red Deer, going to Calgary, going to Edmonton.”

Sangster was asked if those vehicles were stolen because they were left running.

He said some were kept running. In other cases, thieves got access to the keys for those vehicles.

The mountain bike unit is continuing to prove successful, Sangster said. He noted the detachment now has three mountain bikes.

He said in addition to Olds in general, RCMP officers have been “skulking around” Bowden and Olds College.

He said they’ve been having an impact because the bikes are not like the very recognizable police cruisers.

“We’ll get comments all the time which I love: ‘you guys aren’t playing fair’,” Sangster said, provoking lots of laughter from councillors. “We’re on them before they know what’s going on.

“Especially with the college in the town, it’s working really, really well,” he added. “Kids are kind of realizing that we’re going to be there so instead of – you know – smashing beer bottles on the street, walking back to the college on a Thursday night, they’re not doing that anymore.”

Coun. Wayne Milaney agreed with that.

“It’s made a real difference with the students this year,” he said.

Sangster said members of the public are helping as well.

“It’s not just us, it’s everybody, right? We’re getting information from folks who care and as a result, we’re catching people. That’s how it works,” he said.

dcollie@olds.greatwest.ca

“Our habitual offenders – for the most part – are now in remand and things are quieted down for us, which is nice.” STAFF SGT. JOE SANGSTERCOMMANDING OFFICER OLDS RCMP

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Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.