Elk Valley RCMP, file photo.

Police crackdown on repeat offenders

Public drinking, aggressive driving also on RCMP’s radar in 2018/19

Repeat and chronic offenders will be targeted as the Elk Valley RCMP tries to curb crime in the community.

Police are also cracking down on people drinking in public and aggressive and impaired drivers in an effort to make the streets safer.

Staff Sergeant Jeff Harrold has revealed the RCMP’s policing priorities for the 2018/19 fiscal year, which have the support of local governments.

“Traffic is going to continue to be a priority but rather than just focusing on speeding, we’re going to focus on aggressive, distracted driving of all kinds as well as impaired driving,” he said.

“While speeding can be and certainly is dangerous, it’s not the end all and be all of traffic safety.

“Somebody passing on a blind corner or hill, or on a double line, is often a lot more dangerous than somebody just speeding down a straight stretch, that’s why I wanted to expand that umbrella.”

Highway 3 has been identified as a hotspot for aggressive driving, along with Highway 43 between Elkford and Sparwood.

“Those are the two main areas,” said Harrold.

“South country, there are lots of folks down there in the summer months. We’re going to be all over.”

A new priority for the Elk Valley RCMP is repeat and chronic offenders. Police will monitor these offenders to ensure they are complying with their court-imposed conditions to prevent them from re-offending, which they are often prone to do, according to Harrold. He said this had proven effective in his previous jurisdiction, Saskatchewan.

“If they’re told that they’re not allowed to have alcohol, if they’re told they must be in their residence between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., if they’re told they can’t be in the company of a certain person, those sorts of things, we are just going to be checking on those folks and making sure that they’re complying with the conditions,” he said.

“What we’ve found in the past is these folks get sentenced… but without us checking on them, they were continuing to go out in the middle of the night and break into cars, and those sorts of things.

“By us keeping a closer eye on these folks, we’re hoping to try and curb that behaviour.”

Police will continue to take a zero tolerance approach to drinking alcohol and intoxication in public places, particularly downtown Fernie.

Harrold said the area had been a focus for several years.

“Property owners were complaining, saying ‘there’s a lot of noise, there’s lots of vandalism going on, there are beer bottles being thrown in my front yard’,” he said.

“It has been ongoing for a couple of years and we’ve seen some improvements recently.

“I think we just need to keep on it because it’s one of the situations where downtown Fernie, with the concentration of bars in that area, it can get away on us pretty quick if we’re not down there watching that pretty closely.”

Anyone caught drinking in public faces a $230 fine, while being intoxicated in a public place carries a $115 fine.

Police will also be more present in schools as they focus on building relationships with youth.

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