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Powell River RCMP activity outlined for regional areas

qathet Regional District directors hear review of policing statistics
NUMBERS REVEALED: Powell River RCMP staff sergeant Rod Wiebe appeared before qathet Regional District’s committee of the whole to outline statistics relating to the policing mandate throughout the region.

qathet Regional District directors were recently provided a snapshot of local policing and a review of accumulated statistics.

At the March 28 committee of the whole meeting, Powell River RCMP detachment commander staff sergeant Rod Wiebe provided his quarterly report as well as the annual policing report, outlining policing statistics for regional directors.

Wiebe said in reporting quarterly results, the numbers can be volatile, more so than the yearly result.

“Crime sprees can affect the quarterly numbers drastically,” said Wiebe. “On the whole scheme of things, it’s not too bad.”

Wiebe said during the quarter, police responded to 1,584 calls overall, and in the regional areas, the response was 260 of those calls, and that represents a 3.5 per cent increase in calls for the regional district. He said checks for well-being were up 50 per cent, Mental Health Act complaints were down 11 per cent, unspecified assistance was down 58 per cent and missing persons were up 40 per cent.

Property crimes were up 42 per cent, but year-to-date, it was a 16 per cent increase, said Wiebe. There were 12 bike thefts, 10 residential break and enters, six business break and enters, 36 theft under $5,000 cases, 21 cases of shoplifting and 18 thefts from vehicles, according to Wiebe.

Persons crime was up 22.5 per cent in quarter four, 2023, compared to the fourth quarter of 2022. Year-to-date, the number is 5.6 per cent. The number of assaults was 49, extortion was four, sex offences was 11, harassment was 14 and uttering threats was 25 in the fourth quarter, according to Wiebe’s statistics. There were four drug offences, three drug trafficking offenses and seven weapons offenses.

In terms of calls for service, they were up five per cent from 2022 to 2023. Last year, the RCMP responded to 6,443 calls, City of Powell River represented 76 per cent of those calls and the regional areas, 24 per cent.

Wiebe then outlined the crime severity index, comparing the Powell River detachment to 325 other police forces around Canada. He said it’s hard in a town this size to make sense of the numbers, and if there is a crime spree, the crime severity index can be affected. He said he believes Powell River is in line with the Canadian average in spite of having a higher index.

Wiebe said the courts continue to be a trend. Coming out of COVID-19, new systems were being tried and courts have switched to virtual bail hearings, he added. Prisoners used to be picked up from lockup at the detachment and taken to the courthouse, but now, prisoners appear before the court via video link, where they are supervised by an RCMP member, rather than a sheriff in the court system.

“We have to babysit these prisoners while they are having a bail hearing,” said Wiebe. “We’re sitting in the cell block waiting for the matter to be heard. It’s a huge drain and it’s taking members off the road.”

Checks for well-being continue to be high, which represents nearly 10 per cent of call volume. These are often instances where people have not been seen for several days. Wiebe said often, the checks are related to mental health.

Electoral Area A director Jason Lennox asked if there were other agencies that could assist with the well-being checks. Wiebe said other agencies don’t have the resources, and when they can’t fulfill their mandates, a lot of the work falls to the RCMP.

“There can be a safety risk to some of these calls, and sometimes it can lead to discovering a death, and I don’t wish that on anybody,” said Wiebe. “A lot of it involves mental health and there should be other agencies that are the first responders to that – not us.”

Electoral Area D director and committee chair Sandy McCormick asked about staffing and the Texada Island detachment. Wiebe said there are currently two members on Texada Island and it’s hard on members because they are on call around the clock. He said once the detachment is at full staffing complement, there will be support for Texada.

“Until we get all our resources up to an acceptable level, you won’t see a lot of difference for staffing on Texada,” said Wiebe. “People are on call in Powell River and we have a boat operator that can get members over there if backup is needed.”

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