What was the result of some of the recent high-profile RCMP investigations in Cochrane?
S.Sgt. Chad Fournier, acting Cochrane RCMP detachment commander, provided some highlights to town council during a Dec. 5 report on police activities.
In early June, RCMP received reports of a series of possible attempted child abductions, all described to have involved white-panelled vans. The RCMP undertook extensive investigations and in one case issued an artist sketch of a possible suspect. All of the investigations proved fruitless, including one at a playground in the Willows neighbourhood.
"We did lots of work," says Fournier. "We got footage from all kinds of doorbell cameras and we couldn't substantiate that at all. There were no reports of any kids missing and we did a full investigation, and nothing came of that."
He stressed no children have gone missing in Cochrane but also that the detachment doesn't take the reports received lightly.
"It's something we're still cautious about, of course, like anybody else as parents and police officers, but we haven't had any recent reports of any abductions or attempted abductions or being approached by somebody in a white-panelled van or anything like that."
The report to council indicated there have been 46 break-and-enter investigations in 2022, compared to 40 in 2021. The detachment's crime reduction unit (CRU) had some success stories to share.
He spoke of two prolific offenders who had moved into Cochrane and had been breaking into different condominium complexes, force-opening mailboxes, and stealing items from basement storage areas.
"Our crime reduction unit did a lot of work on them, a lot of surveillance, lots of warrants, and there are charges on both of them now, and they no longer live in Cochrane."
The CRU also successfully investigated another series of break-ins that took place over a short period in the Gleneagles neighbourhood. The pair were connected to break-ins in Springbank and Turner Valley.
He said charges have been laid and that both of the suspects are well-known to the RCMP.
The investigation into a fatal overdose lead to a major operation that expanded to include the Calgary police.
"The victim's family was very cooperative with the police and we got lots of information. Our GIS unit and crime reduction did a lot of work, trying to determine who the drug dealer was."
He says it was tragic that the individual passed away, and that it was vigorously investigated to try and prevent it from happening to anyone else.
"It was a long investigation, and it ended up being part of a bigger operation with the Calgary Police Service, and we got charges laid against the drug dealer, associates, and then the Calgary Police Service went after his supplier as well."
In a separate case, a former high school student suspected of trafficking drugs to students has also been charged, after CRU executed warrants to his residence, and secured evidence.
Fournier says they dealt with an uncommon series of three collisions on Hwy. 1A while construction was underway, each with entirely different circumstances.
The widely-viewed video of a dump truck that lost control and collided with a vehicle on May 24 was the result of the vehicle not having any front breaks.
"That was an owner/operator truck and they're all supposed to do inspections in the morning before they use their vehicles. It would have been very obvious that there were no brakes in the front."
The operator was charged under the federal criminal code for dangerous driving.
On Aug. 22 a flag person suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries and the driver was arrested.
The brakes were found to be in perfect condition and it was believed to be caused by driver error. The suspect was charged provincially for dangerous operation.
Person crimes, which include robbery, sexual assaults, assault, extortion, criminal harassment, and uttering threats, have increased 22 per cent increase since 2021, and 40 per cent increase since 2018.
"They're increasing at a relatively sane level from year-to-year. I attribute most of that to just the size of the town and how it's increasing."
He says while nothing jumped out, the four robberies are a little concerning.
"One was kind of a get-together where the victim actually fell from a third-floor balcony and sustained some serious injuries. Two persons have been charged, and we have warrants out for their arrest."
"One was a robbery by a young offender and then the other two were a little strange circumstances where we're not 100 per cent sure the events actually occurred."
Fournier presented other crime statistics from January to October to council in the categories of property crimes, motor vehicle collisions, common activities, initiatives, staffing, and the new Protective Services Building.
The new building is on schedule to open next summer.
He stressed the numbers he presented are more than stats.
"These aren't just numbers. These are real people, real families, real victims in all this, so it's not just a bunch of numbers on a PowerPoint presentation. It's really important to remember that."
Fournier has lived in Cochrane since June 2013 and has played various roles throughout his career with the RCMP.
"I can honestly say, I've been around for 22 years in multiple different communities. Cochrane is by far the safest town that I've ever lived in. I've got no issues with my 18-year-old daughter walking by herself any time of night in any community in town, and I can honestly say that."
According to 2020 numbers from Statistics Canada, Cochrane's crime rate is 25 per cent below the national average, 41 per cent below the national average of violent crimes, and 19 per cent below the national average for property crime.
Still, public educational continues to remind residents to lock their homes and vehicles and remove anything of value from their vehicles when they're parked.
Fournier said residents are the eyes and ears of crime prevention and he encourages people to reach out to the RCMP should they see any suspicious activities.
To keep current with trends, a Cochrane crime map can be found here.