Busiest year ever for Prince George police

 

It stands to reason that when the more than 10,000 Cariboo fire evacuees descended on the city last summer police calls would increase. In addition, not all of those evacuees have returned home.

“We have seen an increase in calls for service pf about 10 per cent during that period of time,” RCMP Supt. Warren Brown told council Monday. “We have spoken to about 110 people who had no previous address in the city. Individuals who came here in the summer and remained here.”

He said many of those people are either homeless or living downtown. With Prince George offering better services for marginalized people than other communities, some have obviously stayed.

“Will work with some of those individuals to see if we can’t reconcile them in the communities they came from,” said Brown, who was presenting his annual report to council.

The influx of evacuees was just one factor contributing to the busiest year ever for the Prince George RCMP detachment. The detachment had 43,973 calls for service in 2017, up from 41,394 in 2016.

“We saw a significant spike in property crimes, most notable downtown,” said Brown, adding that while some crime areas saw increased numbers, others decreased.

There were 54 robberies in 2017, down from 72 in 2016; sex assaults saw a slight increase from 59 in 2016 to 60 last year. Aggravated assault/assault with a weapon calls were up substantially with 272 reported in 2107, compared to 196 in 2016. Common assault saw a four per cent increase going from 605 in 2016 to 629 last year. Break and enters went from 727 in 2016 to 761. Theft of vehicle over $5,000 went from 139 to 181, while theft of a vehicle under $5,000 went from 124 to 200.

Mischief and causing a disturbance calls take up a large amount of time with 2,023 mischief calls in 2017 and 2,069 causing a disturbance calls.

The number of calls for people experiencing mental health issues has increased 28 per cent with police responding to 1,569 such calls in 2017, compared to 1,223 in 2016.

“Mental health and addictions are still the number one driver of calls for service in our community,” said Brown.

He added the detachment’s Car 60 program, which sees a mental health professional dispatched along with the RCMP, has certainly helped in dealing with such calls.

He said the Safe City Roads program specifically targeting high crash, high speed locations has been effective. As a result, $200,000 in fines were levied

Brown said the detachment is now at full strength however overtime costs remain an issue with the cost just under $2 million. About $800,000 of that is for major crimes and court cases. He said there are several ‘mega-trials,’ involving more than one accused which take up a lot of resources to investigate and officers’ time when they get to court.

There was also a $200,000 bill in retroactive pay for a pay increase last year.