It was the beginning of June, and we had a full summer ahead of us when we last checked in for a crime report update. The months have flown by and as we head into winter, CochraneNow checked in with Corporal Savinkoff of the Cochrane RCMP for an overview of the summer and fall of 2021.

According to Savinkoff, Cochrane and area did see a call volume increase during the summer. COVID still had an impact on the situation including RCMP members having to isolate which increased the busyness for the detachment. However, things seem to have slowed down in the last little while. “Fortunately, within the last few weeks, we have seen a sudden improvement on that call volumes drastically reduced. Which is good our officers are able to catch up on their outstanding investigations and get to the more proactive part of our job which we are able to do when call volumes are down a little bit.” Naturally, members of the detachment are hoping that the downward trend will continue.

One of the most concerning trends throughout the summer was, “A pretty significant increase in domestic assaults and mental health calls.” says Savinkoff.  Some may speculate that the cause is due to COVID, but whatever the reason there has been a distinct increase in calls for both of those issues.

Savinkoff does have positive news to share with regard to support for domestic violence and mental health issues. “I’m pleased to report that Cochrane has been selected to be a landing point for a new team that the RCMP is introducing in Alberta called a PACT Team. That would have police officers working hand in hand with mental health professionals assisting domestic violence victims. And that’s something that is just being talked about right now, but it Cochrane it appears will be getting one of those teams to work throughout the region. They will be housed out of here so the residents of Cochrane, I’m sure, will get a lot of benefit out of that.”

Catalytic converter thefts continue to be a problem in Cochrane and an annoyance for residents and police. Savinkoff says, “Not a lot, it’s kind of here and there. Typically, what we would believe would be a soul vehicle coming in from Calgary with some offenders in it they come and hit a few vehicles and then they leave. But they cause a large issue for us when they do that.”

RCMP has had quite a few reports of individuals breaking into cars in residential areas. There is also the concern of would-be thieves trying doors to residences, but not a lot of reports of actual successful break-enters just people trying doors. Corporal Savinkoff says, “That’s an active investigation that our officers are dealing with right now in town.” Once again, it is a good reminder to keep doors to vehicles and homes always locked. Thieves are opportunistic and will take advantage of an unlocked situation.

As for the permanent RCMP detachment that has been operating for almost a year on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, it seems to be working well. Corporal Savinkoff believes that the added presence of the RCMP on a 24/7 basis has proven to be a successful and beneficial endeavour for the community and the officers.  Administration, chiefs, and councils have been very supportive of the work and it has been a collaborative effort on the part of many.  Savinkoff says from the detachment’s perspective, “We’ve had great success with setting up the teepee and showing our respect to reconciliation and those cultural experiences that we really want to bring into that detachment.”

With the increased police presence on the Stoney Nation, it was anticipated that reported crime would increase and it did. Another positive outcome has been the improved response time to crime calls now that RCMP members are stationed closer. Savinkoff says, “We’ve had some successful projects where we’re trying to combat some of the opioid issues out there as well as some of the violence, we have executed a couple of warrants where we’ve seized firearms off of individuals that definitely shouldn’t be having them. So, I think there’s a lot of success that we’ve had since our launch on January 4th where we opened the satellite office there to that full-time presence out there. Presently, we have eight constables and three NCOs that are permanently stationed out in Stoney Nakoda.

Finally, Savinkoff offers an observation with regards to COVID and offers some sage advice. “We’re all getting kind of long in the tooth and everybody’s kind of tired of it and this and that. So, I think going forward, people just need to really focus on that mental health and focus on their relationships with each other, and hopefully, we as a community can come out of this and be no worse for wear.”