RCMP report: crime is up in Castlegar

RCMP Cpl Brett Turner told city council it is not something residents should be overly worried about

Crime is up slightly in Castlegar, but RCMP Cpl. Brett Turner told city council it is not something residents should be “extremely worried” about.

The year-to-date file count is 2137, last year for the same period there were 2046 files —an increase of 91 files.

Drug trafficking showed the largest jump — up 85 per cent to 106 files.

“That is not egregious for a community this size,” said Turner. He also explained that this doesn’t necessarily mean trafficking is up by that much, but that they have caught more offenders.

“We are trying to do a lot more intelligence-based policing, targeting people that are prolific … let’s say bigger fish,” said Turner.

Mischief to property (attempted break-in, damage) is up 15 per cent (392 files) and property crime is up 3 per cent (446 files). Break-and-enter and break-and-enter of vehicles are also up.

“That is your opportunistic crime,” explained Turner. “A guy is walking around at three in the morning … checking locks. Those items are stolen for the explicit purpose of selling them and getting cash for drug use.”

Some of this is due to a few prolific offenders.

“We want to send these guys back to the same judge — three, four, five times until they get the message that we need more than a conditional sentence, house arrest or a curfew. These guys need to go away for a while.”

More stats:

Bike theft — up seven per cent (24 files)

Theft from vehicles — up seven per cent (193 files)

Uttering threats — up 20 per cent (105 files)

Violent crime (assaults) — up 4 per cent (131 files)

Auto theft — down seven per cent

Shoplifting — down 10 per cent (106 files)

Total Criminal Code cases are at 813 — up 4%.

“The good news is Castlegar is in relatively good shape compared to neighbouring communities including … Trail and Grand Forks,” said Turner.

One explanation for the increase may simply be increased population.

Traffic

Due to limited resources, traffic enforcement has fallen down on the list of priorities, but support is still coming in through the regional traffic unit and an ICBC funded integrated road safety unit.

Talylor said that cell phone usage while driving continues to be a problem in the city.

Marijuana

On the marijuana front, Turner said there will be no more investigations into grow-ops unless there are egregious circumstances.

“We are as much in the dark as anyone,” said Turner regarding what is happening with marijuana laws.

He has concerns that drug-impaired drivers will become a larger problem. This will be compounded by the fact that convincing arguments as to impaired driving will be hard to articulate in court until a detection device is certified by the courts. There are a few certified drug recognition experts in the area, but not all officers have the additional extensive training.

Staffing changes

The Castlegar detachment has been undergoing some staffing changes. Sgt. Laurel Matthew has recently retired and she will be replaced by Sgt. Darren Oelke in the fall. Oelke is transferring from the Trail detachment.

The Castlegar detachment has been short staffed for quite some time now. A full contingent for Castlegar is considered to be 11 general duty officers — currently there are only 8. Turner said that has mostly been due to transfers and promotions remaining unfilled.

Turner explained the problem is not unique to Castlegar. Fewer people are signing up to the RCMP and going to the training academy, leaving a hole when the rate of recruits can’t keep up with the rate of departures.

He also says another problem is pay equity — officers can make more money working for municipal police forces.

The Castlegar detatchment has worked out a new scheduling model that should help with coverage and cut down on overtime for members. In addition, a reserve member will be coming in to help with summer coverage.

This should also help prevent situations such as what happened during the May long weekend when there was only one officer on duty for Friday and Saturday night, with no back up except for Trail.

“I hope that problem never exisits again,” said Turner.

Relief is on the way with two new staff members arriving in the coming months. One is transferring from Saskatchewan and the other is a new recruit from the training academy.

”Castlegar is a very sought after spot, it is not hard to find people to come here,” said Turner. “Once they are here … they don’t want to leave.”

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