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Resident urges greater police presence in Bowden

Olds detachment commander says he's working on making RCMP more visible in the town

BOWDEN — A Bowden resident wants a greater police presence in town. 

Tina Tews made that call during a recent public meeting held in the town hosted by Staff Sgt. Warren Wright, the commanding officer of the Olds RCMP detachment. 

Wright said while police can’t be everywhere all the time, he’s working on ways to enable them to appear more frequently in town. 

However, one town councillor said he feels perfectly safe in Bowden. And Mayor Robb Stuart said council is pleased with RCMP policing efforts, as well as their cooperation with town council. 

The meeting, held the evening of Jan. 26 in the Bowden Friendship Centre, lasted about 90 minutes. Eight people attended, including three Bowden town council representatives: Stuart as well as councillors Wayne Milaney and Paul Webb. 

Tews said she and other family members have had vehicles stolen – even right in front of home. 

Another concern is young drivers doing donuts at places like the Igloo Arena parking lot. She said that happened as recently as the night before the crime meeting. 

“I just find that some of the younger kids, even the older ones, seem to know when you guys are going to be here and when you’re not going to be here and that’s when things are going to happen,” she said. 

Wright sympathized with Tews’ concerns. 

“Kids being kids – and it’s been going on since motor vehicles were invented – they are going to put their foot into the accelerator and – I mean, it happens,” he said. 

Wright said he actually did donuts in the Cow Palace parking lot when he was a kid. But he literally paid the price for that stunt because it resulted in damage to his vehicle. 

He suggested that perhaps police could discuss the laying-donuts issue with school officials. 

Wright said police can’t be on-scene and arrest criminals as quickly as they do in crime shows on TV, noting the 14-kilometre drive from Olds does take time. 

He said in fact, police were in Bowden on Jan. 25 but that was in regard to “another matter.” 

“We are consistently in Bowden but we are obviously missing each other, right? Because we may not be coming in the exact time that you’re out and about or you’re in your home,” he said. “Sometimes we’re here more often, depending on if we get a call for service.” 

“It’s a continual process. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I’m actively trying to improve that visibility because it’s important to me and it’s going to (identify us in town).” 

Wright said because Bowden is located along Highway 2, a very major and busy north-south corridor in the province, it does attract a few bad actors from out of town, but by in large, it’s a very safe community. 

He said what crime there is tends to be domestic violence, something police take very seriously. They lay charges in those situations when possible. 

He said statistics suggest Bowden’s crime rate is about one-tenth or less of that in Olds, simply due to its smaller population. 

He also said Olds RCMP are working with Red Deer County peace officers to make sure laws are enforced in town. 

He recommended that residents discourage vehicle thefts by ensuring they lock vehicle doors and noted RCMP are embarking on a campaign imparting that same advice. 

Wright said unfortunately, COVID restrictions curtailed the amount of time and the activities police could be involved in but he’s hoping that will soon change. 

He also pointed out that on Feb. 14 he will be at a Bowden town council meeting to discuss the latest crime statistics in the community and what policing priorities council would like to see. 

Coun. Wayne Milaney agreed that in his view, Bowden is a pretty safe place to live. 

"My experience in this town has been very safe. I’ve seen people walking their dogs and young people coming and going from school and it’s just a feeling of security in this town, where I live,” Milaney said. 

Stuart praised the relationship between the Town and Olds RCMP. 

“I think what you’ve given us at council’s been very informative. We’ve always had a pretty good relationship with Olds RCMP. We appreciate that,” Stuart said.  

The Albertan asked Tews if she was satisfied with Wright’s answers. 

Tews said she was. She understood that Olds RCMP can’t be in the town at all hours of the day and night. 

“It is a good community," she said. "My husband loves it here. Our kids have gone to school here, graduated. Now my grandkids are going. 

“You’d just like to see more proactive kind of thing. That’s all I’d like to see. I know they can’t be here 24/7. I understand that, right? You can only do so much, right? We're all human.” 

Wright was asked what he thought of the turnout. 

“Actually to be honest with you, I’m pleased,” Wright said. “We had three or four residents show up. I think it’s a start.  

“I think you know, word of mouth and different opportunities I think we’ll see some more people come out and participate in these town hall meetings.” 

Wright pledged to hold three town hall meetings a year – one each in Bowden, Olds and Mountain View County.