The pandemic continued to impact operations at the Altona Police Service in 2021.

In the latest annual report for the department, Chief Perry Batchelor noted most training opportunities were cancelled, as were the annual bike rodeos in Altona and Plum Coulee, Ag Safety Day and school visits to the station.

“COVID had other plans for us and we all had to buckle down for another year of restrictions and mandates, and enforcing those restrictions and mandates. But overall, our community did very well," said Batchelor. "For the most part, people understood and did their best to comply and get along. Now, I'll say as we go into 2022, with a little bit of luck we've got it in the rear view mirror, but I think we still have to be cautious and take care of each other going forward.”

When the pandemic cancelled most in-person training, Batchelor says the department responded just like other professions had to.

“You pivot, right? We did have a bit of a lull where we could get together and actually train, and in that gap we got our firearms training done, carbine training, shotguns, sidearms, got everyone trained in less lethal and now we've got them in all of our police vehicles. Anything much beyond that really didn't happen due to COVID, unless it could be done online.”

If there’s a silver lining to the pandemic at all, Batchelor said it may be that break-and-enters were down big time in 2021. According to the annual report, APS registered a 100% decline in B & Es.

However, the report notes a 32% increase in fraudulent activity, plus improved road safety thanks to additional funding from the Province.

“There was a period of time where we weren't getting funding from Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI). That funding was reinstated last year and as a result, a lot of the public will have seen that we did have a traffic officer. We received $25,000 from MPI, which allowed us to have a full time, overtime traffic officer, which really does help keep our roads safe," added Batchelor.

The Chief noted, tapping into the Province’s Proceeds of Crime granting program also allowed the department to further support the Altona Youth for Christ renovation project to the tune of $25,000.

“They work with youth, obviously, as well. Anything we can do to keep youth out of trouble and doing more constructive things is a win-win for all of us," said Batchelor.