Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
The benefits for a small town of being close to a large city are numerous but as Alix village council heard at their Jan. 19 regular meeting there are some disadvantages too.
Councillors heard the regular quarterly report of acting Bashaw RCMP detachment commander, Cpl. Grant Glasier. Glasier, a 16-year veteran of the RCMP, became acting commander of Bashaw when Sgt. Bruce Holiday became detachment commander in Stettler in 2021.
As Glasier looked over the latest crime stats for the Village of Alix region he stated there appears to be a bit of an increase in all crime categories, and it also appears 2021 was a return to the five-year normal for crime rates.
The corporal noted the increase was driven by a noticeable increase in motor vehicle thefts and thefts under $5,000 and translated into a 43 per cent increase over 2020.
He stated there were 18 instances of theft of motor vehicles in 2021 in the Alix region which is substantially higher than the previous year.
Glasier noted, however, that total number of 18 includes nine motor vehicle thefts that occurred in one night in Alix and were perpetrated by one suspect, a man from Red Deer.
Increasing the scope a bit by including the surrounding municipality Lacombe County, Glasier stated there was also a significant increase in total person crimes.
Mayor Rob Fehr asked if the suspect was a transient or if he had links to Alix in some way.
Glasier responded the suspect was more transient and when motor vehicle thefts occur in Alix police look at Red Deer suspects more often than not.
Glasier pointed out that criminals from Red Deer know there are fewer police officers in the rural areas surrounding the city than in the city itself.
Alix is located about 50 kms from Red Deer.
The suspect turned out to have links to Mirror, and abandoned Red Deer vehicles found here pointed to a city suspect.
The corporal stated the Alix vehicle theft suspect was eventually arrested in Red Deer.
Looking at crimes against persons, Glasier noted assaults were not perpetrated by transients but more family or spousal in nature and he suspects people stuck at home during the pandemic may have something to do with the number of incidents.
The increase in crimes against persons was more in the Lacombe County region than in the rest of the area that Bashaw detachment covers.
Mayor Fehr noted he volunteers with victim services and the organization has certainly seen an uptick in domestic violence due to the COVID-19 pandemic and things that come along with it such as financial stresses.
Fehr stated it’s probably the same situation across Alberta and Canada.
Glasier noted he’s trying a new approach to visibility and crime prevention by tweaking officer schedules to increase coverage. With these changes Glasier stated he hopes police are around in communities when the suspects are also around.
He noted some overtime RCMP members are also helping out with duties such as house arrest checks.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White asked how the staffing levels are at the Bashaw detachment. Glasier responded the detachment’s staffing levels are fine, with a new RCMP officer fresh out of training depot. However, the detachment is short one admin staff but Glasier hopes to have interviews for a replacement by March.
White added it’s nice to see the RCMP around the community and knows residents appreciate the visibility.
Councillors accepted Glasier’s report as information.