OLDS — Town council has set its policing priorities for 2023-24 which include crime reduction, engagement and visibility, mental health and domestic violence as well as traffic enforcement prevention education.
Council made that decision at the request of Staff Sgt. Warren Wright, the commanding officer of the Olds RCMP detachment during council’s March 6 policies and priorities meeting.
On behalf of council, mayor Judy Dahl will now write a letter to Wright listing those priorities.
It was not clear in what order those priorities would be, although Coun. Heather Ryan had a preference. She said traffic enforcement should be the first – or at least the second – priority.
She noted that some residents raised concerns about traffic during an appearance before council last summer or fall.
“I’d like to see them taking on a more firm role in that regard," Ryan said. “I do think that that’s a priority for our residents.”
The matter arose when council considered a letter to Dahl from Wright in which he asked council to set its policing priorities so he can put together the detachment’s annual performance plan by April 1, the beginning of the RCMP’s fiscal year.
In his letter, Wright noted that last year’s priorities were crime reduction, engagement and visibility, mental health and domestic violence.
During a presentation to council last month, Wright suggested a fourth priority: traffic enforcement prevention education.
Ryan was not clear on what “enforcement prevention education” meant. For her, the priority was simple: just traffic enforcement.
Dahl said when Wright brought up the idea in February, the idea as she understood it was to educate people about the rules of the road first.
“And if that wasn’t working, then they would move differently,” she said.
“I see what they’re saying. I’m just not clear as to what they would do to educate our public as to, you know, how to drive better,” Ryan said with a short laugh.
“You know, if you have a driver’s licence, you’re responsible for the speed that you’re going, you’re responsible to stop at a stop sign.
“To me it’s very vague as to the type of education they’re going to do. I mean it could be you know, having a class for all I know. I have no idea.”
Coun. Darren Wilson suggested that “traffic enforcement prevention education” means undertaking education sessions and demonstrations about drinking and driving with students and/or other members of the public.
Another action in that vein, he said, is to give out “positive tickets” to motorists when they drive in a safe, proper manner, like stopping well behind school buses when they’re stopped to let students out.
That was in line with what Coun. Wanda Blatz believed the term refers to.
She said council should call on Dahl to write the letter listing its policing priorities then await Wright’s next quarterly report on crime in the community.
Coun. Harvey Walsh said he’d rather see the emphasis put on traffic enforcement prevention education than traffic enforcement per se.
“I think I’d rather go with traffic enforcement prevention education. If that works, then that reduces the issue that the residents have,” he said.