Calls for service to the RCMP are up by 10 per cent in rural communities around Williams Lake, however, Insp. Jeff Pelley of the Williams Lake detachment said most calls were not for criminal offences.
“The majority of the calls were for collisions, traffic offences, abandoned vehicles, those types of things, and road checks, which is actually self-generated from increasing our police presence,” Pelley said after making a presentation at the Cariboo Regional District board meeting Friday.
There were some criminal offences, but the top number of calls were not.
Between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2018 there were 1,377 calls for service from rural communities compared to 3,790 calls in Williams Lake.
Pelley outlined the detachment’s main priorities of enforcement, education and prevention, and reducing collision and impaired driving.
“We are trying to look at a more regional approach on offenders, not just specific to Williams Lake, by having displacement where the rural communities’ crime rates then go up in Quesnel, 100 Mile House or Alexis Creek.”
There are presently 14 prolific offenders on the detachment’s list — seven of them are not from Williams Lake, but from the region, Pelley confirmed.
Working with community support groups and stakeholders, the RCMP collaborate on education and prevention initiatives to look at root issues and why certain offenders commit crimes.
Presently there are 25 municipal, 10 provincial, six crime reduction and four First Nations policing members working out of the Williams Lake detachment.
Crime reduction unit
“The Cariboo Chilcotin Crime Reduction Unit serves into the outlying region,” Pelley said. “Williams Lake has come up on the crime severity index a number of times and our objective is to drive down the crime rate in the region and work on those multi-jurisdictional offenders that go to different communities where they may not be known by the police.”
Local RCMP also work jointly with police at other detachments with respect to offenders, he added.
In 2017, the crime reduction unit conducted 199 investigations in Williams Lake, 43 in rural communities and eight in First Nations communities.
“As a result 68 investigations were forwarded to Crown Counsel resulting in 231 recommended charges,” Pelley said. “Of those 150 charges were approved and there have been 31 convictions.”
During the first six months of 2018 there have been 155 investigations, 111 charges recommended, of which 75 have been approved and 45 are pending.
“Sixteen charges have been against prolific offenders. We have a great success rate involving those offenders that get remanded into custody, it’s the up-and-comers that we focus on,” Pelley said, noting 44 weapons have been seized as well.
Increased summer policing
Additional funding in the amount of $20,960 is being used to increase the numbers of police officers on duty for rural policing during the summer.
“We have 26 additional shifts between the July long weekend into September that will serve strictly the rural communities. For example we have four officers this weekend for Arts on the Fly in Horsefly and they will be out there for 10-hour shifts each day.”
The officers have a mandate to be proactive, provide enforcement or education at liquor events, focus on impaired driving road checks as well as positive interactions with communities.
“They also work with in partnership with our regional traffic service which is embedded in our Williams Lake detachment and provides a service up towards Prince George, down into 100 Mile House and out west. There are six officers in that unit.”
Road checks have doubled in the whole region, he added.
“In the City of Williams Lake we’ve had forfeiture funding this year for an additional crime reduction unit member and an additional traffic position,” Pelley said.