OLDS — As of Friday, Dec. 1, Olds RCMP are stepping up enforcement of traffic laws in Olds via a new four-point plan.
The joint effort between RCMP and the town’s peace officers, is being instituted partly with a view to keeping the roads safe during the Christmas holiday season and in response to long-standing concerns of some residents about speeders and dangerous drivers in town.
Const. Mitch Price announced the plan during town council’s Nov. 27 meeting, saying the goal is to increase visibility and enforce traffic rules.
He has been working on the project with peace officer Erika Goutsis.
“Our goal is to have tandem patrols with her and I taking place about three to four times a week, focusing on areas of complaint that she’s receiving within town,” Price said.
A second prong of the initiative is a safe roads/safe nights campaign.
Olds RCMP officers will be offered eight-hour overtime shifts dedicated solely to enforcing traffic laws.
“These members will not be fielding calls for service and will be expected to be on the road, conducting traffic stops for the entirety of their shifts, with the exceptions of completing file work on violations and impaired driving sanctions that they (encounter) during that shift,” Price said.
"We’re hoping to have one to three of these enhanced shifts run per week through December. We'll gather stats on that moving forward and then we can decide how that looks," Price said.
“We’re looking to set a minimum of 25 to 30 vehicle contacts for that overtime member (during) that shift,” he added.
Price said the focus will be on enhancing the visibility of RCMP in the community and enforcing the rules, “with an emphasis on our mandatory alcohol screening, so impaired drivers.”
Also, Price said knowing there will be lots of Christmas parties and the like during the next few weeks, "multiple check stops” will be set up.
The fourth and final prong of the strategy will be an effort to encourage RCMP officers to conduct regular traffic stops and issuing violations as required on a day-to-day basis, again to increase visibility in the community.
Coun. Darren Wilson thanked Price for the plan.
“As you’ve said and we’ve heard from our residents, visibility and traffic enforcement, so thanks for reacting to the voices of the citizens,” he said.
“I look forward to the report, I guess in Q 1, as a result of these initiatives.”
Director of protective services Justin Andrew noted concerns about speeding and dangerous driving in Olds were brought by several citizens during a previous council meeting.
He said in response to those concerns, RCMP and peace officers have made a concerted effort to be more visible and enforce municipal traffic laws.
However, said Andrew, “to date, in the time that they’ve spent, they’ve found zero occurrences of any kind of an infraction that would be enforceable.”
He stressed that doesn’t mean traffic violations aren’t occurring, just that police or peace officers weren’t there to observe them.
“It doesn’t mean that they won’t go back, it just means it’s not a prolific problem that’s happening every day on a regular basis, Andrew said. “It’s kind of time-dependent, so they’ll continue to work on that.”