Speaking to town council March 27, Hodge assured Mayor Don Anderberg that he’d notify town hall if the detachment anticipated a staffing crunch.
“If officers don’t come in from out-of-area, the [Pincher Creek] detachment would have to fill in,” Hodge said, qualifying that it was too soon to tell.
The detachment typically aims to post two Mounties in Waterton Park at all times throughout the summer. Six Mounties were cycled through in pairs last summer, with the detachment occasionally filling in.
“There were definitely periods where we had to supplement [coverage in Waterton] with our own officers, but that was kept to a very minimum level,” Hodge told council.
It’s not hard to attract Mounties who are willing to spend a summer in the park. The challenge, Hodge explained, is freeing up Mounties from their home detachments.
“Provincewide, we’re finding that resource levels are low and it’s tough to get officers released so that they can come down and work for us.”
Mounties from Fort Vermilion and High Prairie have already expressed interest in policing Waterton this summer, according to Hodge. At the same time, the detachment commander said he was in talks with Cardston RCMP about potentially pooling resources.
In the meantime, Hodge said, the detachment was “definitely feeling an impact” in the absence of the town’s former peace officers.
Mounties are being called to respond to complaints about dogs, many of which fall outside the scope of police work.
“We’ll always respond to dog attacks, but we don’t deal with stray dogs or complaints about dogs chasing deer through town. Our officers don’t have the training or the time for that,” Hodge advised council.
“We’re in the process of filling positions for two bylaw officers,” Mayor Anderberg replied. “We don’t have anyone in place right now, but that’s in the works.”