Fort Saskatchewan RCMP reported that they achieved most of their goals during 2017-18 despite a staffing shortage that saw many detachment members working overtime and taking on extra duties.
According to staff sergeant Mike McCauley, the local detachment continues to be short four members, partly due to what he calls “soft vacancies” -- members taking time off for parental leave and long-term illness leave. During a recent year-end report to city council McCauley said the soft vacancies hit the detachment “fairly hard,” leaving them to make do on average with about 24 members, several short of their normal full roster of 28-30.
“So you’ll note that some of our goals weren’t quite met. And that was in large part due to that resource flux,” McCauley told council.
Relief is on the way for the detachment, however. Seven additional staff members, including a new recruit, an experienced corporal and staff transferring from other jurisdictions, will be moving to the city in the near future.
“Because again with the soft vacancies, we were running so lean that it could have been significant issues of morale,” McCauley said. “But due to a lot of sacrifice and a lot of members working extended shifts and extra shifts and members working in different roles than they normally would, I believe we were able to piece things together quite well and stay more than afloat and actually have some great success this year.”
In 2017-18 the detachment worked towards meeting targets in four areas approved by council, including crime reduction, traffic safety, substance abuse and youth and community engagement.
Local RCMP crime reduction strategies have both and education and enforcement components. McCauley reported that the detachment exceeded goals on the education side and also made progress in other initiatives, including working with habitual offenders and collaborating with the Edmonton Police Service on crime prevention.
Police also sent a member to work on a central Alberta pilot project that saw dozens of high-risk prolific offenders taken off the street in the wider Edmonton area.
In traffic safety, the detachment exceeded its public education goals but fell short in some of their enforcement efforts, a situation McCauley said was related to the staffing problem.
Efforts to tackle substance abuse were also hampered by the staff shortage, with only one drug project of a targeted three completed in the fiscal year. RCMP did meet education goals in this area, however, making 30 of a planned 24 educational presentations to local school children and other members of the public.
McCauley reported to council that the local detachment hit their community engagement goals “out of the park,” making far more presentations to youth than originally aimed for.
Another highlight of the year for the local detachment was their work with the Fort Saskatchewan Families First Society in helping victims of domestic abuse.
Mayor Gale Katchur, acknowledging the staffing problem, commented that she was pleased with the local detachment’s efforts throughout the year.
“So I’d just like to say you’re doing a great job. And when it comes to staffing, it’s always an issue. And I think it’s something council’s always going to have to look at and figure out how we address it,” she said.