Trafficking charges jump in fourth quarter 2014

Drug trafficking charges were up 52.8 per cent over the quarter in Cranbrook.

Drug trafficking charges were up 52.8 per cent over the quarter in Cranbrook.

In total there were 39 trafficking charges laid in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared to 20 in the same quarter of 2013.

However, clearances of drug files fell 23.5 per cent, with 21 in 2014, and 17 in 2013.

Sgt. Brendan McKenna, Operations Support NCO at the Cranbrook detachment presented the RCMP fourth quarter report at council on Monday, and noted that despite the lower clearance rates, the initial busts still help to get drugs off the streets.

“The clearance rate is maybe not as high, but we’re still able to identify the people and interdict the drugs,” McKenna said. “At the very least when you’re investigating those crimes, even if you can’t get a conviction, if you seize the drugs you don’t have to give them back — they can be destroyed — and you’ve hampered their operations to some degree.”

The 2014 total drug charges stayed at a similar level, with 130 in 2014, compared to 134 in 2013. The clearance rates dropped over the year by 8.3 per cent, with 88 in 2014, compared to 96 in 2013.

Two new members of the RCMP have recently taken over the drug files and are getting up to speed, McKenna said — one officer in Cranbrook and one in Kimberley.

Cranbrook RCMP calls to service in 2014 were almost exactly on par with 2013. Over that period last year calls in the city were down slightly, but calls to rural surroundings made up the difference, which in total was 8,339 calls this year, compared to 8,400 last year. Of those in 2014, 6,253 were within Cranbrook and 2,086 were to rural areas.

“Year over year the number of calls changed very little,” he said. “It’s actually less than one per cent.”

The year to date for prisoners held also dropped in 2014 by 56 jailed people. The total figure for 2014 was 905, compared to 961 in 2013 — a 5.8 per cent drop.

“You can see here that we’re in the range of over 900 prisoners for the year,” McKenna said, adding that is a lot of people to deliver to the cell block. “That’s probably one of our highest risk areas of operation.”

Person offences, which include assault, sexual assault, assault with a weapon, robbery, threats and criminal harassment was down this year over last year by 13.7 per cent. The change amounts to 390 total in 2014, as compared to 452 in 2013.

“Over the whole year we had a drop of almost 14 per cent,” McKenna said. “We think that is significant.”

Property related offences were up in the fourth quarter, but dropped overall compared to the year prior. Property offences include break, enter and theft, mischief to property, thefts and thefts from vehicles. In the fourth quarter of 2014 the offences were at 191, compared to 170 in 2013 — a 12.4 per cent increase.

“Some of that has to do with particular criminal groups that happen to operate,” he said. “You may be aware from reading the papers recently where we interdicted a group of four individuals.”

He said the group was from the Calgary area and was essentially touring the interior B.C. with plans to go all the way to the West Coast. They were targeting jewelry stores and pawn shops.

The people were located, said McKenna. He said that could account for a 12 per cent change between the two quarters.

Over the year though there were 776 in 2014 and 940 in 2013, a 17.4 per cent drop.

In the Other Criminal Code offences category, the numbers dropped in both the year and the quarter. There was a drop of 5.9 per cent, with 80 offences in 2014, compared to 85 in 2013. Over the year there was a drop of 17.4 per cent, with 342 in 2014 and 401 in 2013.

McKenna said the decrease was likely as a result of increased patrols, as well as more use of the media and social media to get information to the public.

There were changes to the impaired driving laws so the numbers weren’t tracked in 2013. The total number of impaired/refusals was 12 in the fourth quarter of 2014,while the total number of immediate roadside prohibitions was 80. Over the whole year, the rates of impaired drivers charges went up by 113 per cent, with 119 in 2014, compared to 56 in 2013.

McKenna said the immediate roadside prohibitions have helped to reduce fatal collisions by nearly 50 per cent in the province.

There was a total of 591 traffic tickets issued in the city was 591 in 2014. The total including Notice and Orders was 1491 in the city in 2014. If the rural area is included that number jumps to 2085 in 2014, a change of 39.7 per cent over last years total city and rural traffic contracts of 1492.

There were two distracted driving tickets over October/December of 2014.