July 20th, 2024

MHPS Annual Report: Calls for service up more than 8% over 2022

By James Tubb on June 21, 2024.

NEWS FILE PHOTO Medicine Hat Police Service released its 2023 annual report showing overall calls for service increased by more than 2,600 over 2022.

Brendan Miller

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

The Medicine Hat Police Service received 32,502 calls for service in 2023, about an 8 per cent jump over 2022 when 29,870 came in.

MHPS on Thursday released its 2023 Annual Report, and despite dealing with more than 2,600 more calls for service, there was a decrease in call for services downtown, as well as traffic safety offences.

However, the report states the service received more domestic violence calls, mental health apprehensions, property offences, fraud calls and violent crimes against people than the previous year.

The report shows police responded to 469 assault calls in 2023, up from 411 in 2022. However, police received 325 calls for threats and harassment, down from 470 the previous year.

The report highlights charges laid after police arrested a Medicine Hat man involved in two separate bomb threats that led to the safe disposal of a homemade pipe bomb by members of the MHPS bomb disposal unit.

The service also experienced an increase in domestic violence complaints last year, receiving 1,700, up from 1,589 in 2022. However police filed fewer charges against offenders in 2023 and made more than 200 more referrals for treatment and support.

The report highlights a partnership with the Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society to assist families in dealing with incidents of family violence. In November 2023, the Safe Families Intervention Team participated in several activities around the city aimed at increasing awareness of the warning signs of family violence, including the purple ribbon campaign.

Police responded to more than 250 more mental health intervention calls than the previous year, at 1,055. Police also made more than 50 more mental health apprehensions over 2022, with 394.

Property-related offences were also on the rise as 2023’s 679 calls for theft under $5,000 was 199 more than in 2022. However, police did experience a dip in thefts over $5,000 and residential break-andenter calls.

Fraud calls are also an increasing concern for police. In 2023 they reported 563 fraud calls for service, approximately 100 more than the previous year.

The report highlights efforts to increase awareness of fraud trends during Fraud

Prevention Month in March, and tips on how members of the community can avoid falling victim.

Calls in the city’s core decreased in 2023 as the downtown patrol unit received 544 calls for service compared to 618 in 2022. Police say most calls for service downtown involve public nuisance-type behaviours, including unwanted guests, trespassing or a check on well-being.

The report states one of the most significant challenges patrol units face is managing individuals dealing with mental health and addiction challenges and who are not committing criminal acts, and says that during warm weather conditions officers tend to deal with an increase of calls of suspicious and vulnerable people gathering in community parks and open areas.

Motorists also received fewer traffic violations in 2023, as the traffic unit responded to 70 fewer impaired drivers. Of note, police significantly reduced usage of automated traffic enforcement and only issued 3,428 violations in 2023 — in 2022 police issued more than 17,000 violations.

The report details the service’s compliance with the Automated Traffic Enforcement Guidelines by adding high-visibility markings to traffic monitoring vehicles, which has had a direct impact on the number of violations issued.

Police also seized more than 3,500 grams of fentanyl powder and more than $900,000 in street drugs in 2023, and highlighted the seizure of 3D-printed operational handguns and components by ALERT members during separate investigations in June and October.

In terms of weighted offences where homicides, robberies and break-and-enters would represent a higher ‘weight’ than offences like minor theft or mischief, the report shows Medicine Hat compares similarly with Lethbridge and Taber.

In 2023 the service ran a balanced budget at

$27,302,000 and was Alan Murphy’s first full year serving as chief of police.

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