BVJ policing occurrences

By Lori Larsen

With the return of the Big Valley Jamboree, Camrose Police Service reports that, for the most part, the festival was enjoyed without any major concerns.

However, as would be expected when that many people are congregated in one area mixing alcohol and good times, there was bound to be some incidents requiring police response.

According to Camrose Police Service Inspector John Corbett, there was a total of 83 reported police occurrences, in comparison to 103 in 2019, the last year BVJ was held prior to COVID cancellations.

Some of these occurrences include: one sexual assault, three assaults, 13 impaired occurrences, and three thefts.

“The remainder of police-reported occurrences included liquor complaints, noise complaints, collisions, general assistance, and one major site eviction of a problem campsite.”

There was a total of 103 violation tickets issued on site during the event compared to 203 in 2019.

“The same number of traffic tickets were issued both years; however, the number of liquor violations issued in 2022 were significantly less than in 2019,” reported Corbett, stating that officers wanted to balance enforcement actions and education for patrons on the site grounds.

Corbett said there was a total of 14 arrests at the 2022 Jamboree site, compared to 29 in 2019.

The arrests included: impaired driving (5); public intoxication (5); breach of undertaking (1); outstanding warrant (1); theft of vehicle (1); and other provincial statute (1).

“Five of the 14 arrested subjects were lodged into cells because the subjects were not able to safely care for themselves,” explained Corbett.

Corbett said that high visibility and a proactive strategy were the main goals of police presence at the event.

“One proactive strategy that had a fairly big impact this year was the deployment of daily Checkstops,” he explained. “A total of 13 drivers were intercepted and taken off the road who were either over the legal limit (‘Fail’ readings), or not quite over the legal limit but should not have been driving (‘Warn’ readings). Overall, there was a 63 per cent increase in Impaired Driving events at this year’s event compared to 2019.”

He noted that all of these drivers were exiting the BVJ site on their way into the City of Camrose during daytime hours, and that officers also observed that once people noticed the police were conducting Checkstops, several motorists turned around and returned to their campsites.

This year, the police on site deployed the use of the Camrose Police Service
E-bikes which assisted in providing a more efficient and effective response on the festival grounds.

According to Corbett, the 2022 BVJ did mark a year with notable reductions in police events compared to the 2019 festival:

  • 19 per cent reduction in reported police occurrences
  • 52 per cent reduction in arrests
  • 75 per cent reduction in assault complaints
  • 73 per cent reduction in theft complaints.

Corbett said that while these trends represent some favourable public safe-
ty experiences, there were some factors that may have caused a decrease in police calls, including not having a walk-up police station on site and the Friday evening weather system that shut down main stage and beer garden entertainment.

“Overall, the event was a very positive one, and it was great to see the event return to full operation in our community, and people being able to get out and enjoy it after a long hiatus,” concluded Inspector