Staff Sgt. Colby Argue, Westman RCMP Detachment Commander, presented his monthly report to the Town of Virden Council during Tuesday’s regular meeting at Tundra Oil & Gas Place. He noted that the shuttering of local businesses and cancellation of community events at the height of COVID-19 has had an impact on the workload of his officers.
Visibility, community involvement and traffic enforcement, all priorities identified by Council, were noticeably affected. "We have still tried to get out and be as visible as possible with our patrols,” he said.
There were 76 calls for service during the month of May, on par with the same month last year. However, he reports that the 287 calls for service since 2020 began is significantly less than the 319 in the first five months of 2019.
"With COVID-19, we weren't getting the typical driving complaints... the disturbances," he said.
Officers have devoted time to performing curfew checks. “We’ve done 18 curfew checks on people we’ve identified as repeat offenders, which has resulted in three subjects arrested or facing charges for breaching their conditions.”
As spring turns into summer and restrictions begin to ease, Argue says, "With the warmer weather we are starting to notice a bit of an increase in mischief, things like that."
Traffic offences have recently spiked as well - 26 in May includes a mix of charges and warnings.
An experienced person has been hired to fill the vacant Municipal Clerk position at the Virden Detachment office, but has not yet started work.
A new Corporal transferred from Saskatchewan in late May had to self-isolate for 14 days before taking up his duties.
With the addition of a veteran officer in Reston, the detachment will be up to full strength. Argue anticipates losing two more officers to transfers later this year.
The Virden detachment office remains closed to the public. In response to a question from Councillor Tara Cowan, Argue indicated that officers are only performing criminal record checks if urgently required. “The biggest thing has been the fingerprinting… just limiting the close contact with the detachment and our members,” he said.
"We're hoping to hear something very shortly as to when we can open up."