Local RCMP want to focus on catching distracted drivers.
Digby staff sergeant Phil Barrett has completed his annual policing plan for 2012-2013. Top of the list is enforcing laws against talking on cellphones and texting and not wearing seatbelts.
"We want people to be aware we will be increasing enforcement," says Barrett. "Both for their own safety and so they won't be surprised if they get pulled over.
"We have a 90-day reporting period and I told my officers I expect to see results."
Barrett says catching people using their cellphones is challenging but Corp Tim MacDonald says the detachment will be "utilizing some innovative methods".
Digby's policing plan has three main focus areas: road safety, domestic abuse and general crime reduction.
Barrett says the goals and objectives of the plan came from the series of public meetings, from discussions at the police advisory board and from provincial RCMP headquarters.
The Digby RCMP held public meetings in Bear River, Weymouth, Tiverton, Barton, Sandy Cove and Seabrook. Barrett says they are still planning for a meeting in town.
Under road safety, the RCMP will be focussing on three issues: distracted driving, impaired driving and ATVs on highways and in town.
To reduce drinking and driving the RCMP will conduct 'strategic patrols' of dances or other events where alcohol is being served.
"The younger generation is much better at arranging designated drivers," says MacDonald. "They have gotten the message. It's the older generation who are causing more of a problem."
Barrett says complaints about ATVs on the road came up at every public meeting.
"We even get complaints about ATVs in town," says Barrett. "And it's the attitude that's scary: they're out there at 2 a.m., making a lot of noise, driving very fast, no helmet, probably been drinking. It makes it an extremely high risk they are taking.
MacDonald says although the detachment will be mounting regular ATV patrols, the RCMP need help from the public to stop the problem.
"If they know who the driver is, or where they live, or can note down a plate number, we can pay them a visit and wait for them to come home," says MacDonald. "We can talk to them and their parents about it. If people are willing to go to court, even better."
Barrett says the vast majority of ATV riders are responsible and law-abiding and he hopes to work with local ATV clubs to promote safe riding.
Barrett's main goal in handling domestic abuse is to make sure all his officers take a training workshop—only a couple don't have it. The two-day workshop helps officers assess domestic abuse situations and address them appropriately.
The RCMP enforce a zero tolerance policy for aggression in domestic abuse cases.
"The dominant aggressor will be removed and charged if warranted," says Barrett.
Under general crime reduction, the Digby detachment will focus on three initiatives. They will make regular checks on people serving house arrest, on probation or on curfews.
Secondly they want to increase their visibility through strategic patrols, more foot patrols and more checkpoints.
Barret pointed out that an apparent recent increase in the number of check points resulted in an accounting change.
"We were always doing the check points," says Barrett. "It's just that now we have to send a record of every check point to Halifax."
Finally the detachment will also work with a crime analyst in Yarmouth. The analyst, like a profiler, looks at patterns and trends in the region and helps focus police effort where it will do the most good.
Barrett also wants to increase Digby's interaction with neighbouring detachments in Annapolis and Meteghan and with other laws enforcement agencies like Fisheries and Natural Resources.
"I hope we can coordinate our patrols and our enforcement efforts to increase everyone's efficiency in targeting travelling criminals."