During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Quesnel RCMP has been responding to calls related to provincial health directives around self-isolating after travel and maintaining six feet between people, but so far, police have been handing out information instead of fines.
Sgt. Richard Weseen, Operations Support NCO for the Quesnel RCMP, says police have received calls in the last couple of weeks regarding people who are not self-isolating or social distancing.
“The police have responded to these incidents and are educating the public rather that penalizing through fines at this point in time,” he said.
Weseen says calls for service and crime statistics rise and fall on a regular basis, and the Quesnel RCMP does not provide weekly or monthly crime statistics but does report these numbers to Statistics Canada on a quarterly basis once they have been verified and analysed. Weseen says they have not seen a rise in any types of calls for service since the pandemic began.
“I can assure you that our crime analysts are monitoring crime trends daily, both provincially and nationally, and have not noted any spikes in crime,” he said.
Weseen assures Quesnel and area residents that despite changes made at the detachment to reduce face-to-face contact and maintain social distancing, such as rescheduling officer workers’ hours and halting non-essential fingerprinting, the RCMP continue to maintain all their core duties.
“The RCMP is cognizant to the stressors that have been placed on Canadians during the pandemic,” said Weseen. “People have lost their employment, may be facing layoffs, and bills are piling up. This is compounded with childcare issues and families spending much more time that usual confined to their homes. The residents of Quesnel and surrounding area can be reassured that the RCMP detachment is here to help, and the core policing duties during this pandemic will not be effected.”
The Quesnel RCMP launched an Online Crime Reporting tool in late March so that people can report non-emergency crimes that do not require police attendance or followup right from their homes, and Weseen is hoping it will start catching on.
The program allows for the reporting of incidents to the police, creation of file numbers for insurance purposes, and the sharing of information that police can use to identify high-crime areas for increased patrols. It also frees up time for frontline personnel to respond to higher-priority calls and emergencies.
The Online Crime Reporting Tool can be accessed at ocre-sielc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/Quesnel/en or through the Quesnel RCMP website at quesnel.bc.rcmp.ca or the City of Quesnel website at quesnel.ca/municipal-services/emergency-services/rcmp.
Weseen says only four people have used the online reporting tool so far in Quesnel, and the RCMP is hoping it will get used more.
“It reduces the amount of time for a person having to come down to the detachment or even phone in and spend the time on the phone — they can do it from home and do their thing,” he said. “It helps with social distancing and even with picking up the phone and touching surfaces. We’re urging people to do that for things like theft from vehicles.”
Weseen says the more the Online Crime Reporting tool gets used, it also becomes helpful in tracking where and when crimes take place.
“It helps us with crime trends too,” he said. “If six cars got hit on a street and nobody reported it to the police, how do we know to increase patrols or where crime is happening if nobody reports it. That’s another big factor in how we use that reporting system.”