Cranbrook RCMP presented a report to Cranbrook City Council at a regular meeting on Monday, April 25, with the reports showing a general increase in crime over the past few quarters.
Sgt. Barry Graham presented the first quarter report for 2022 and the fourth quarter report for 2021 to Council, along with an update on the detachment and staffing.
Looking at the fourth quarter for 2021, there were 2287 calls to service, up 19 per cent from the same quarter in 2020.
There were 19 break and enters to commercial properties, compared to seven in the same quarter the year prior. There were 24 break and enters to residential properties, compared to 10 the year prior.
In the first quarter of 2022, there were 2131 calls to service, up seven per cent from the same quarter in 2021.
There were 13 commercial break and enters, compared to seven in the same quarter the year prior. There were 16 residential break and enters, compared to 12 in the same quarter the year prior.
In the fourth quarter of 2021 there were 63 mischief calls, compared to 50 the year prior. In the first quarter of this year, there were 60 mischief calls.
Theft of vehicles and bicycles are down slightly for this most recent quarter, where as in the fourth quarter of 2021 they were up by 100 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.
Councillor Ron Popoff asked if, looking back from 2018 to now, there is a trend showing a positive increase in crime.
Sgt. Graham responded saying, “without the stats before me I would say that there is a trend, but not as dramatic a trend as the last year. [It has been] generally increasing, and there is a more dramatic increase over the last few years.”
Popoff wondered if the COVID-19 pandemic had anything to do with an increase in crime activity.
Sgt. Graham says that he anticipates many different factors affecting trends, including an increase in population and a decrease in policing staff.
“We’ve experienced resource shortages that impact proactive work,” he said. “When we’re not out in front of things, crime trends can tend to continue and take off. There are a number of things where there could be more support within the entirety of the social [agencies]. I wouldn’t be able to give a value to one, but there are a lot of things, and the pandemic certainly didn’t help.”
Councillor John Hudak pointed out that there were “only” 17 traffic tickets issued in the fourth quarter of 2021. There were 18 issued in the first quarter of 2022.
He said that he “hears of erratic driving” all over the city.
“I think we should be performing at a higher level, even given the reduced resources that you have,” Hudak said.
Sgt. Graham responded saying that it has been challenging for the detachment with limited resources. He says that trying to be proactive about crimes, paired with an increase in file load and expectations, has officers over-worked.
“The amount of documentation that goes into a file right now has our people tied to the desk or tied to their computers when they’re in the cars,” Graham said. “17 is definitely low, I’d be lying if I said I was happy with that, but there’s a lot of things that go into that when you’re just treading water all the time.
“Our numbers are starting to get better and I’m really optimistic going into summer…”
Councillor Wes Graham says 17 is “fine” in terms of traffic ticket numbers.
“I would much rather have you guys dealing with police files, dealing with break and enters, dealing with crime. Dealing with traffic is so subsidiary right now with what’s facing us, I think that’s fine. Kudos that you’re out there and doing what you can with the crew you have,” he said.
He asked if the Cranbrook detachment has officers strategically placed in areas known for crime.
Sgt. Graham responded saying that there is a manager reporting after every shift on their “hot spot” patrols, in order to have visibility in those areas. But it’s not always possible, he says, to have an officer located in a hot spot.
“When we get behind, when we’re not actually catching the repeat offenders, once you catch them – they’re off the road, for a while anyway, and we can usually tie in a bunch of other investigations, round up a few people, and let off some of the pressure,” Sgt. Graham said. “But that’s been one of the biggest issues; we collapsed all of our proactive people, we have very few mandated proactive members in the office. All of us have a role in proactive policing, don’t get me wrong, but when we have a plain clothes unit that is just barely able to maintain the high-end, complicated files, it doesn’t allow [us] to stop these crime trends. Again, I’m getting more optimistic going into summer.”
Councillor Mike Peabody asked about an increase in motor vehicle accidents.
There were more motor vehicles accidents reported in both quarters, with 95 in the first quarter of 2022 and 153 in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Peabody questioned whether the increase might be due to more traffic, or less traffic enforcement.
Sgt. Graham says he would have to see where the files originate from to know exactly, but speculates that there are some areas and intersections that continue to be problematic in general.
“The 95A and Theatre Road intersection, that’s dropped off substantially, but where that’s dropped down we’ve picked up in other areas,” Sgt. Graham said. “The highway patrol team has been low as well. When people don’t see a police officer out, it doesn’t do much [for people] to put the foot on the break or slow down.”
Mayor Lee Pratt says that after chatting with both the Ministry of Transportation and ICBC, he suggests getting ICBC more involved to gain more traction on improving intersections.
Sgt. Graham ended the discussion by briefing Council on the detachment. Part of that involved praising some of the officers for their work in helping to save lives. Some of that work included saving two people from attempting to jump from a bridge and building, helping to rescue two people from the frozen ice at Moyie Lake, and helping put out a grass fire in Wardner. He also welcomed several new arrivals to the detachment.
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