Calls for service and how they are prioritized were the main focus during the quarterly RCMP report to Penticton city council on Tuesday.
Supt. Ted De Jager highlighted some of the statistics the detachment collected from Jan. to July 2019 and noted that since the uniform crime reporting methodology has changed as of this year, it is hard to make direct comparisons with the 2018 statistics without a detailed analysis of each crime type.
According to these newly-compiled stats, auto theft and break and enters are on the rise in the city, and theft, in general, remains the top call for service. So far this year, the detachment has received 10,352 calls for service.
De Jager said he noted that many residents were concerned at a recent public meeting with the RCMP with the amount of time officers are spending in the detachment versus being out on patrol. He clarified that most of his staff attend service calls and that 70 per cent of the calls for service the detachment receives are not criminal.
“The reality is that my members would like nothing more than to be out on the street, catching bad guys – it’s what they do, it’s what they signed up for and they love doing it,” said De Jager. “Unfortunately with the amount of articulation and legal articulation that is required to arrest and detain someone, it’s a significant portion of their workday.
“And when we’re getting 60 calls or files per shift, unfortunately, our members are literally going from call to call. They try to make a presence in high crime areas or hot spots, for example writing their files there. And it’s typical for summer to see an increase in calls for service, but this summer we have seen a spike.”
De Jager said if all on-duty members are at priority calls, the dispatcher will queue the call unless it’s an active criminal offence or there’s harm to the public. He said a suspicious person that is not committing a criminal offence would be queued if members are at priority calls, and that it is possible these queued calls won’t be addressed by an officer for hours or until the next day if there is no threat of violence.
Coun. Katie Robinson questioned whether calls to the dispatcher are recorded and what residents should do to follow up with concerns about their call for service. De Jager said it’s important that people contact him directly with their complaint and the date and time it occurred, rather than air their grievances about the situation on social media because he does not actively monitor those networking sites.
De Jager did have some major wins to share with city council, noting that the Community Active Support Table (CAST) has dealt with over 50 situations involving bringing services and supports to high-risk individuals.
“The Targeted Enforcement Unit (TEU), I think they’re actually trying to challenge me to see if they can get more prolific offenders off the street than is humanly possible, but they’re certainly doing it. The Street Enforcement Unit, within three weeks of their operations working with TEU, have already taken a significant amount of drugs off the street.”
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