RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)

Crime stats down as COVID-19 impacts proactive enforcement

Crime stats were down across the board in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted areas of RCMP operations and enforcement, according to S/Sgt. Barry Graham, the Cranbrook detachment commander.

S/Sgt. Graham presented the yea-end stats to city council on Monday night, noting that calls for service were down inside and outside the city, while person and property offences were down by six and seven per cent, respectively.

However, S/Sgt. Graham acknowledged the amount of arson offences that occurred last year, which ballooned from 3 in 2019, to 11 in 2020.

“We saw a substantial increase in fire investigations this year, some that are still under investigation,” he said.

Other criminal code offences such as bail or probation violations or failing to appear in court, were also collectively down by nine per cent.

There was a slight decrease in drug clearance percentages, while two additional drug trafficking files were reported over last year’s total of 26.

Motor vehicle accidents, as well as drinking and driving offences were down, as was traffic violations and notices, which dropped substantially.

“The biggest change noticeably here is the traffic violations and notices,” said S/Sgt. Graham. “We weren’t doing a lot of proactive traffic stops, it was if we had to go for emergencies and stuff early on. As we got into our COVID protocols and learned more as we adapting as everyone else did.

“Our stats did pick up a little bit towards the end but overall, it was a significant drop there.”

Prisoners held at the detachment dropped by nearly half, from 814 in 2019 to 473 in 2020.

Following the report, Mayor Pratt noted some concerns about speeding truck traffic on Cranbrook St. through the city, as well as shared resources between municipal RCMP and East Kootenay Traffic Services.

S/Sgt. Graham also noted that if residents have any complaints about areas where there are consistent traffic violations, such as speeding through a playground zone, it’s important to notify the detachment to help with enforcement.

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