RCMP calls for service steadily increasing

Sgt. Chris Dodds reports quarterly, annual crime stats to Cranbrook city council

Cranbrook RCMP are responding to more calls for service, both locally and rurally, as annual crime stats were reported to mayor and council on Monday night.

Fourth quarter calls for service for both local and rural areas combined were up 21 per cent, while all calls for service over the course of the year was up seven per cent, according to Sgt. Chris Dodds, who delivered the report on behalf of the Cranbrook RCMP detachment.

Annually, person offences overall were up by six per cent, but some specific offences were down, such as sexual assaults and person assaults. Similarily, property crime, as a whole, is up nine per cent, while some specific offences such as arsons, and thefts, are down.

Frauds jumped significantly by 67 per cent, which Sgt. Dodds attributed to phone scams targeting seniors.

“Having looked into that and done some research, it’s mostly the phone frauds we’re getting from overseas that have impacted that statistic there,” Sgt. Dodds told council. “We’ve seen a real big spike across the country in those kind of frauds, certainly targeting seniors…”

Sgt. Dodds also noted that while residential and commercial break and enters are up eight per cent, it comes in lower than provincial rates.

Another grouping of criminal code offences were up 10 per cent, but specific crimes fluctuated. For example, weapons offences were down 21 per cent, as was casuing a disturbance.

However, fail to appear spiked 256 per cent.

“I do believe that it’s both a combination that we’re charging people more often with fail to appears when they fail to appear in court and we’re following through with those charges and also, they’re being approved by Crown, to be charged,” said Sgt. Dodds.

For drug-related offences, possession offences are down 41 per cent, while trafficking offences are up 37 per cent, according to Sgt. Dodds.

“That certainly can be attributed to some of the hard work our Crime Reduction Unit and our GIS [General Ivestigation Section] folks and just our general duty officers on the streets, picking off both drug dealers and people in possession of drugs not cannabis-related, so harder drugs.”

For traffic-related offences, injury accidents are down 24 per cent within the city, and alcohol-involved cases are down 27 per cent.

Impaired drivers and roadside suspensions are down 48 per cent and 66 per cent, respectively.

“Impaired driving is something we’re focusing on with increased efforts, with the cannabis laws,” said Sgt. Dodds, “so we’re working on that”

Traffic tickets and notices were also down by a combined 27 per cent, which Sgt. Dodds attributed to staffing challenges.

Looking at a five-year average of crime stats, Sgt. Dodds said calls for service are up nine per cent.

“Probably likely due to population and as we grow, different things come in to town, we’re incrementally growing in calls for service every year,” Sgt. Dodds said.

Following the report, Councillor Wes Graham noted concerns about loitering at downtown businesses based off social media posts and email feedback he’s received.

For those types of calls, Sgt. Dodds said police attend and try to move people along, noting the importance of building partnerships with other organizations throughout the city to address that isuse.

“There are certainly resources for some people who are hanging about who don’t have places to go and we do direct those people to those resources as best we can,” Sgt. Dodds said. “We often give them rides to get them moved away from businesses that are having issues with that, but in the winter, when it’s cold, people seek out warm places and unfortnately, bank vestibules where bank machines are, are warm and they’re open and it’s certainly a nuisance.”

Dodds added that private security isn’t an RCMP mandate, but highlighted the importance of working with businesses to come up with crime prevention plans to reduce loitering.

Sgt. Dodds also announced that he will be transferring to Revelstoke, having accepted a lateral position in order to be closer to extended family in the Okanagan.

Cell block retrofit remains on budget

Later on in the same city council meeting, a staff report provided an update on the retrofit of the cell block area of the RCMP detachment.

The project consisted of removing and rebuilding five holding cells as well as the construction of a new guard room and boking area.

The project was necessary in order to meet RCMP standards.

Currently, six cells are functional while three cells are waiting on delivery of cameras, which are required before occupation.

Additional work will include an Intox room, a Livescan room, a Secure Interview room, Prisoner Effects room and Supply Storage room, which weren’t part of the original scope of the project, but will be completed.

The city’s Public Works is serving as the general contractor for the $627,000 project, which has allowed the city to save money rather than utilizing a general contractor, however, it has also put a strain on staff resources for other city projects.

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