Break-ins drop in Cranbrook

Cranbrook RCMP report crime statistics for April to June 2013

Cranbrook RCMP gave its quarterly report to council on Monday, Aug. 12 and break-ins in the city are way down.

“We’ve decreased our total break-ins by 74 per cent – that’s very significant,” said Cpl. Pat Prefontaine. “The last time I was here, I think we talked about the effect of one prolific offender or one person who comes to town and starts breaking into things until we catch him. That’s kind of representative of that 74 per cent reduction compared to the second quarter last year.”

The number of break-ins was 13 from April to June in 2013, as compared to 54 at the same time last year.

Prefontaine was pleased to report that traffic enforcement increased this quarter.

“I can see we’re getting more people coming back from maternity leave and we’re getting more people on the road,” he said.

He said the goal of the 2013/2014 business plan is pretty hefty, as this year they had seven priorities compared to the four last year.

“It’s going to be a tough goal because it’s a lot of work,” he said, adding that he thinks they are on track to reach it.

The first of the priorities is addressing speeding in school zones and rural areas. RCMP have done 12 road checks at schools in Cranbrook and written 18 tickets to drivers. Enforcement in school zones is suspended until September.

Coun. Denise Pallesen put out a plea to drivers to watch their speed zones.

“Especially in the schools and follow the signs, because they’re huge issues for any number of people,” Pallesen said.

On the pedestrian side, jaywalking was deemed a priority.

“We’re addressing that as far as helping city council to develop a bylaw or at least look at if a bylaw is applicable and do some research on that,” he said.

Prefontaine said they’ve had a slow start on the distracted driving initiative, with only seven tickets written in the quarter. Prefontaine said he is addressing that and improvements have been made.

Another goal was to increase police presence in Jaffray, Tie Lake and Rosen Lake areas, which he said has been successful with more patrols hitting those areas and some spots in between.

One new initiative this year is a presence on the water, by way of a new RCMP boat. The boat is shared between Cranbrook and Kimberley and prepped for patrols on six main lakes in the region. Prefontaine said the goal is to have at least six boat patrols this summer to deter alcohol and dangerous boat operation.

Police have also been working on suicide prevention talks with aboriginal communities. Three sessions incorporating suicide intervention and prevention, grief and loss coping skills and peer support were presented to 200 First Nations youth and community members.

In the initiative to reduce organized crime, Prefontaine said there have been 14 drug trafficking charges this quarter, and one possession charge.

He said police have also been keeping an eye on prolific offenders and doing curfew checks. In the quarter, there were 14 contacts resulting in three executive warrants and 10 criminal charges for assault causing bodily harm, break and enter, assault with a weapon, mischief, theft under $5,000, in addition to three breach charges.

Citizens on Patrol volunteers put in 97 hours in the second quarter.

“I’d encourage anyone with an interest in making our community safer to volunteer for citizens on patrol,” said Mayor Wayne Stetski.

Coun. Bob Whetham asked about the recent raves at Koocanusa.

“I don’t know how many people, we’ve had varying reports, from several hundred to a thousand youth coming in from Calgary occupying areas of Crown land, and there doesn’t seem to be any control over what they’re doing,” Whetham said, asking if that’s something that the Cranbrook detachment has to deal with. The problem parties were brought up at the Regional District of East Kootenay meeting.

Prefontaine said he was aware of the Fozzy Fest event, which he said went very well.

“I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t cause extra strain on the resources of the Elk Valley or Cranbrook,” he said.

Prefontaine acknowledged that the Cranbrook RCMP didn’t have as much funding this year as compared to last year to deal with problems out there.

“When you get a lot of people and they come and randomly camp out there… it’s a difficult thing to get out there and police,” he said. “It really does call for a multi-agency interdiction out there. We’re dealing with Crown land, Reserve, private property… it’s an issue that’s getting bigger and bigger every year.”