For the second year in a row Williams Lake has ranked seventh in Statistics Canada’s crime severity index for cities with a core population of 10,000 or more.
Williams Lake RCMP Insp. and officer in charge Jeff Pelley said the index, released in October, is based on 2019’s police-reported crimes and 2019’s three identified homicides influenced the ratings.
“We have three individuals charged with first degree murder and one of those is charged with two counts of first degree murder,” he told the Tribune.
The victims of those homicides were Sabrina Rosette, 33, who died of stabbing wounds at Tl’esqox (Toosey) First Nation on June 8, 2019, Richard Irvine James Duncan Jr. killed in a shooting death on Aug. 6, 2019 and Branton Regner whose body was found in the Fraser River on Aug. 27, 2019.
“As a smaller community we know that a single violent offence or a string of non-violent crimes can rapidly change our crime severity index ranking that would occur in a larger municipality.”
Pelley said the detachment made significant strides and while Williams Lake remains number seven, next year he thinks there will be further successes.
Experience has shown that a few people in the community are responsible for the majority of crimes which results in a tremendous strain on public and police resources, he added.
In all of 2019 the RCMP responded to 8,468 calls for service in the city compared to 7,911 in 2018.
There were a total of 1,468 people in custody in 2019 and 189 missing persons investigations conducted by the RCMP.
There were also ‘substantial’ increases in theft of vehicles and an increase in theft from vehicles.
Since becoming inspector in 2016, Pelley has led the detachment toward a more consultative research based approach that has seen the detachment work with other agencies and service organizations to deal with root issues in an effort to reduce crime.
Police have targeted high volume offenders and known crime hot spots and disrupt crime throughout the region.
“We will continue to do everything we can to keep our community safe. We don’t do this alone, this is a community issue. We cannot solve or lower crime rates without the co-operation of the community.”
Pelley said working with the community has resulted in some substantial successes over the last year that have involved some very serious offences that have dramatically led to crime reduction in Williams Lake and surrounding communities.
With government funding received in April 2017, he established a Cariboo Chilcotin crime reduction unit made up of six additional members who have contributed to almost 400 recommended charges on several individuals over the year.
“Our general duty officers have focused on high-risk offenders, bail conditions, enforcement and those have all been contributing factors.”
He has applied for funding for the crime reduction unit to continue after March 31, 2021.
Bi-annual reports have to be submitted on the unit, he said.