By J.W. Schnarr
There is no policing shortage within the Municipal District of Taber, says the acting head of the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP.
“I think there might have been an exaggeration as to how short (staffed) we are,” said Cst. Melanie Schefter, who is currently in charge of the detachment until their new detachment commander is transferred.
“I’d like to dispel that, because we are at full strength as far as our constables go. We are only waiting for a sergeant.” She added the sergeant has been named and will be coming to the detachment when a replacement at his current detachment is found.
Schefter attended Vauxhall council’s regular meeting on April 14 to update council on policing statistics within the month of March. She then took the time to address many of the concerns raised by council, which appeared in an article first published in The Advance regarding the number of available officers and the town’s issues with young Mennonites.
“Because concerns were raised in regards to these (Mennonite gatherings), and the driving complaints that go on, I have increased the manpower during these peaks,” she said.
Schefter said there would be more enforcement available Sunday afternoons as a result of an overlap in shifts on Sundays. Cst. Tamara Dreaddy, the enhanced RCMP officer for the M.D. of Taber, will also be involved in some weekend patrols as available. There will also be more check stops coming to the area, and Schefter has authorized members to incur overtime in order to deal with cases as needed.
But policing statistics tell a different story to the one being portrayed regarding lack of police coverage and lawlessness issues, according to Schefter.
“We’ve been (increasing policing) for the past three or four weeks now, and we’re getting some stats out of it,” she said.
“As far as our stats go, one traffic complaint in the town of Vauxhall for the month of March doesn’t scream huge problem to me,” she said. “Unless there are other things going on or people are not complaining. If they don’t complain, we don’t hear about it.”
Coun. Linda English said part of the issue is that it is still early in the year, and nuisance activities in the area will be ramping up as the weather improves.
Schefter replied it is fine to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to dealing with issues.
“If these are issues that have been going on in the past months, I’m just not seeing it based on these stats,” she said.
“I’m about proactive policing and getting out there before things happen, absolutely, because it makes our job easier. If we can prevent injuries or loss of life due to things happening on the highway, that would certainly be one of our goals.”
Mayor Margaret Plumtree said in one instance, there were cars racing through town but she was unable to get a photo.
Schefter told her that it is still important to call and make complaints so police know where to better allocate their resources.
“If it’s possible, get a description, or get a license plate,” she said. “That’s what we ask. There are a few other towns also complaining of the same thing. We have to split our priorities up. If it’s happening here, and you guys are complaining, and Barnwell’s not, then we’re going to be here. We’re going to be where we get the calls.”
“It’s up to the community to help us out in that respect,” she added.