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Crime drops dramatically in Innisfail

Results for first half of 2021 show sharp reductions for personal and property offences in Innisfail
MVP RCMP commanding officer
Innisfail RCMP Staff Sgt. Chris Matechuk at a recent local town council meeting. Matechuk said his detachment will keep building on the recent success his members have had in reducing crime in Innisfail and the surrounding area. File Photo/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – The RCMP’s long and challenging war against crime in town and the surrounding area is now showing a welcome turnaround.

With rural crime seriously threatening the safety and well-being of many local and area citizens in recent years, the Innisfail RCMP’s latest statistics are revealing a reversing trend, one that could bring a lot of hope for residents and businesses.

The statistics, which have already been forwarded to the Town of Innisfail, show dramatic drops for both person and property crimes.

Innisfail RCMP Staff Sgt. Chris Matechuk, the commanding officer at the local detachment, said from January to the end of June of this year persons crimes – which include assaults, robberies, homicides and sexual assaults – were down 43 per cent when compared to the same time in 2020. He said property crimes, which include break and enters, vehicle thefts, frauds, have plummeted 63 per cent from last year’s statistics. The stats were formally presented to council at its July 12 regular meeting.

“They (statistics) are substantially better. The police have done a lot of pretty good police work in catching some of these major (criminals) involving these vehicle and property crimes,” said Innisfail mayor Jim Romane following a recent council meeting when the statistics were made public. “They’ve been pretty successful in catching up to the main culprits. The indicators now are that a lot of it is opportunistic situations, like kids coming and checking vehicles and it’s not locked and the keys are in, and away they go.”

While noting the hard work by police officers at his detachment, Matechuk also praised the community for their cooperation and assistance.

“Property crimes in Alberta have seen a downward trend but ours were extremely and considerably higher than the average. It is the totality of everybody, working with the town and the community police officers and working with the (local) community,” said Matechuk. “We are only as effective as the support we get from the community. If we get good support from the community, we are a lot more effective, so it’s got to be a totality of everything.”

Matechuk also praised the good working relationship he has with the Innisfail Policing & Safe Community Committee, which was created in 2019 with a mandate of employing a collaborative approach to community safety.

“We lean heavily on relationship-building involving the community,” he said. “They helped immensely, and because of COVID we couldn’t directly do our consultation in person so a lot of it was done online, and we’re seeing a little bit more participation from the community as well when it came to responding to online requests.”

Last spring the committee released the results of a community-wide survey, and from it the RCMP identified three strategic priorities for 2021. They include targeting property crime, engaging youth, and maintaining a safe and respectful community. Local Mounties also include traffic safety and pursuing innovative social solutions to that list.

“We just have to continue what we are doing. We’ve got a lot of feedback from the community saying that they see us around a lot more, and visibility is huge. It is a big deterrent,” said Matechuk in response to a question of where the local detachment goes from its recent success.

“We just want to maintain these (crime) reductions," he added. "It is difficult to do and we will just continue to do what we are doing and try to keep our visibility maintained with the community.”


Johnnie Bachusky

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