By Cal Braid
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
At a Dec. 11 council meeting in Vauxhall, Sgt. Stu Gemmill gave a report of the RCMP’s October activity in the M.D. of Taber. After he gave a rundown of some of the key numbers, he disclosed that the force would be vacating two homes in town that had previously been occupied by detachment members.
“I did want to mention that (a constable) is currently living in the Vauxhall force house. It’s one of the houses we own. We own two of them here in Vauxhall. He’s leaving us right away and the RCMP has decided that we want to dispose of those houses because it’s getting hard to get the members to stay there.” He cited deterioration and maintenance as factors in the decision. “So they’ll put them up for sale I imagine, and hopefully we get a buyer for them.”
“It’s nothing against the town,” he said. “They’re a little bit older. The guys are looking for bigger houses. A lot of people that come here have families, and that’s not to say that they’ll live in Vauxhall again, (but) there may be members that buy in Vauxhall. There is at least one retired member that does live in Vauxhall.”
He said that the RCMP owns houses in other communities throughout southern Alberta, and is vacating some of those as well. Before leaving the meeting, he asked if the council had any further questions. Mayor Cawley said that she’d spoken to a staff member at the high school who wondered about the police presence and involvement at the school.
Gemmill said, “Usually we have a member come into the high school. For sure, if the schools need anything, there is a member assigned to each school. But, if they don’t feel like they’re getting the communication or they want a presentation, just ask. I’ll send them over again.”
Cawley told him that she’d heard a few comments on speeding as well. He replied, “I can tell you that council has made traffic a priority. Last month, I (was) getting on my guys because the numbers have been down. We’ve been shooting for 30. In my November report, these guys wrote 214 tickets because I’ve been getting on them, which is a lot more than 30, but we’ve been lacking in previous months. It’s good to see that they’ve raised the bar. We will continue to do that.”
Gemmill reviewed the detachment commander’s comments for October, saying the RCMP laid charges in five criminal investigations and responded to two complaints of family violence. Charges were laid where evidence existed and supports were made available. “That’s an extremely low number so that’s really good,” he said.
Other stats for the month included: 165 calls for service, one impaired driver, five criminal code offences reported, 911 hang ups were down–there were 18, and two were within Vauxhall. The force did 30 criminal record checks and seven fingerprints for the general public. Officers made 43 patrols of Vauxhall.
For the entire detachment area comparing last year to this year, from January to October, there was an 11 per cent increase in persons crimes. Property crime was down three per cent, other Criminal Code violations were up 20 per cent, and there was a 68 per cent decrease in break and enters. There was also a 16 per cent decrease in theft under $5,000. He told the council that percentages can be misleading. In a small detachment, small numbers make big changes and that’s why some percentages seemed large.