It was both good news and bad that Staff Sgt. Warren Brown delivered to City council Tuesday night in his quarterly crime report.
The good news is that crime in most categories is down over the first six months of 2011 compared to 2010.
However, the bad news is that Williams Lake holds the dubious distinction of being number one for violent crimes — categorized as assaults, sexual assaults and domestic assaults — in British Columbia communities policed by the RCMP. The detachment’s case burden was also ranked as second highest in the province. Brown noted the latter statistic is a function of the volume of calls and the number of police officers. He said he appreciated the efforts of the City to provide additional support staff to the detachment but noted that he was still understaffed for officers. As for the number one ranking, Brown said the RCMP was working with stakeholders to address the issue and to “try to chip away at it.”
“We’re still very concerned about the high level of violent crime,” he said.
Mayor Kerry Cook asked Brown whether citizens should be concerned for their safety.
“I think we need to remain vigilant,” he replied. “We need to lock doors and not leave things in our cars but when it comes to violence I would say the vast majority of community members are safe. The vast majority of violence is between known participants.”
Brown reported that compared to the same period in 2010, theft of auto over $5,000 was down from eight to four; theft of auto under $5,000 was down from 17 to two; theft of truck over $5,000 was down from 10 to two; theft of truck under $5,000 was down from 16 to three; break and enter of business was also down from 24 to 11; false alarms were down from 391 to 313 and calls for service were also down from 4,490 to 4,091.
The only category in which the City experienced an increase was break and enter of residences. Those have increased from 37 to 43 and robbery from seven to 10.
The City now ranks 24th out of 60 in the province when it comes to property crime.
A positive change, said Brown, noting in the past the community had been in the top three.
Brown expressed a concern with the continued high number of nuisance and false alarm calls. The City recently instituted a false alarm bylaw aimed at curbing false alarms.
He further credited the creation of the Cariboo Regional Integrated Marijuana Enforcement team for helping to free up local members.
At Tuesday’s meeting council agreed to send a letter of support for continued funding for the CRIME task force launched in September 2010 after a high level of public concern around grow ops in the area.