The Police Service had a very event-filled year in 2018. For the first time in the history of the Medicine Hat Police Service, the Police Commission bylaws were altered to add two members to the governing body. The change has allowed more diversity and greatly enriched the discussions regarding the governance of the Police Service.
For the first time in recent memory, there were no traffic fatalities during the year, which is one of the goals of the MHPS Traffic Safety Plan. The Patrol and Traffic teams deserve a big shout out for their continued efforts to improve traffic safety through education and enforcement.
The MHPS investigative units were also very active throughout the year. Some of the highlights include:
-Robert Hoefman, 55-years-old of Medicine Hat, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 64-year-old James Satre. The case was very unique and required very precise and dogged investigation before a charge was laid.
-Ronald Big Bull, 31-years-old of Medicine Hat entered a local bank and robbed it producing a handgun and note demanding cash. He was charged with robbery with a firearm (or imitation) and wearing a disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence.
-Rolf Traichel, 55-years-old of Medicine Hat, was charged with several fraud and fraud related offences. The offences are alleged to have occurred between 2010 and 2016, and have resulted in a loss to the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education in excess of $1 million.
-MHPS responded to a suspicious death of a 38-year-old male, who died in a Calgary hospital in June after being involved in an altercation at a licensed establishment.
-The Priority Street Crime Unit executed a search warrant at a residence in Redcliff, AB where they seized a significant amount of stolen property that was stolen during numerous residential break and enters that occurred in the Elkwater and Dunmore areas. Crime knows no boundaries.
The MHPS Organized Crime Unit seized a record amount of methamphetamine and fentanyl throughout the year. The unit, supported by the RCMP through Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team, worked steadily on a number of major files in an effort to keep illicit drugs off the street. These drugs effect the overall safety of our community and the continual and ongoing work that at times feels like swatting flies in a dairy barn, seemingly hopeless but necessary.
The Bylaw Enforcement Unit utilized two summer students to concentrate on community property standards. Their role was to bring education and awareness to community neighborhoods by sharing information about how to keep yards and alleys tidy and weeds under control. The team created over 450 files and relating to unsightly properties.
The date of the legalization of cannabis came and went and thus far the impact to the community has been minimal. As we await the legalization of edible cannabis products next year and are preparing for potential issues. Changes to federal laws regarding impaired driving were introduced in mid-December. The most significant change was mandatory alcohol screening (MAS) which requires those operating a motor vehicle to provide a roadside breath test upon demand of police regardless of suspicion that there is alcohol present in the person’s body. Research has demonstrated that MAS is a significant deterrent to driving while impaired. The legal limits remain unchanged. Safe driving and youth safety remain a priority.
Behind the scenes our Victim Service Unit works tirelessly with a covey of amazing volunteers that add so much to our Service by working closely with victims.
We completed our 2019-2022 Strategic business plan and had our budget approved by City Council. The plan included our five priorities of Community Safety, Community Engagement, Innovation and Excellence in Service Delivery, Organizational Wellness and Investment in Human Resources.
Happy New Year and thank you for the permission you give us to police this fine community!
Police Chief Andy McGrogan has been a member of the Medicine Hat Police Service for 37 years, and has been serving as chief since 2008.