RCMP give annual report -- numbers are down
Grand Forks RCMP Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison was the first presenter at Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting, Feb. 11. Harrison came before Grand Forks city council to give his annual report and brought the good news that crime is down in the Kootenay Boundary.
“This was another successful year in policing, quite frankly. Our statistics speak for themselves,” said Harrison. He says the number that really stands out is that since 2010, crime in the Kootenay Boundary regional detachment area has decreased overall by 48 per cent. “In a period of three years I think that’s pretty significant.”
Between 2012 and 2013, crimes against people have increased slightly with 54 incidences in 2012 and 63 in 2013. In 2012 there were 280 property crimes in Grand Forks and 161 in 2013. For crimes that fall into the “other” category, there were 69 offences in 2012 and 70 in 2013 – an increase of only one.
The total criminal code crimes in Grand Forks was 403 in 2012 and in 2013 it dropped to 294.
It’s always good when there is a reduction in crime, and Harrison said that the decreases are a result of many factors. One, he said, is that this is a trend across Canada, although he believes the local community is “beating the trend.” He also attributes the reduction in crime to groups like Citizens on Patrol, the Boundary Restorative Justice Program and the Boundary Emergency and Transitional Housing Society.
Harrison wants to keep the momentum rolling and says this year the RCMP are trying to put together a school liaison project where they will make presentations to students about current issues like sexting, and social media threats.
They have worked with the local fire and ambulance services in the past and want to continue that effort this year, especially in regard to bicycle safety, which Harrison says needs some work.
“This is a bit of an issue in the community,” he said, adding they want to work on education rather than strict enforcement.
When he was finished his report, Harrison said that he always asks city council for feedback and what they think the local law enforcement can work on in the coming year. They put out an annual performance plan on April 1 and would like input. Harrison added that while they are currently working on the plan, he is open to feedback from council.
“My door is always open,” he said.
Council took the opportunity to ask questions about the report and Coun. Michael Wirischagin asked if there were statistics on drug related crimes.
Harrison explained that they were not included because they do not fall under the criminal code. He added that the statistics can be provided, but that the numbers are not significant and that it does not eat up a lot of the police’s time.
Coun. Patrick O’Doherty asked Harrison about the number of false 911 calls, which in Grand Forks amounted to 249.
Harrison said this was often a result of pocket dialing and that they still have to record and follow up on all 911 calls to the best of their ability, adding it does take up some of their resources.
Mayor Brian Taylor asked about the incidences with deer and Harrison said it was still an issue and that sometimes the RCMP officers have to dispatch a deer on the side of the road due to its injuries.
Coun. Cher Wyers asked about electric bikes (e-bikes) and asked if they were an issue in town.
Harrison said he has only heard anecdotal stories about unsafe e-bikes but that the statistics don’t add up. He did say that they are classified as bicycles but it seems to be a trend in Grand Forks to remove the pedals, which would make them more of a motorized vehicle.
An audience member asked about fraud cases amongst seniors and said there wasn’t enough action taken to stop it.
Harrison responded that a lot of the time fraud cases involve the Internet and when the Internet is involved it often transfers to international law. The RCMP are limited in what they can do and have to refer the case to a group like Interpol, who won’t take action for small sums of money. However, Harrison says he that fraud happens to everyone, not just seniors and that he frequently posts a “Scam of the Week” on the bulletin board at the police station.
He also gave an example of a scam that had been going around called the “Grandson Scam.” This scam happens when someone calls a senior, purporting to be their grandson’s lawyer. They said the grandson is in jail and needs — for example — $20,000 for bail.
Harrison said a lot of people get sucked in, and that is one particular scam that is targeted at seniors. Another scam example that he gave is when someone calls and says an individual has won $1 million dollars but they need to pay $20,000 to receive it.
“If it’s too good to be true – it is,” said Harrison.
Harrison’s annual report includes information from other Boundary communities. In Greenwood, the RCMP received 218 calls for service, down from 254 in 2012. In Midway they received 241 calls, down from 286 in 2012. In Rock Creek they received 229 calls, up from 226 the previous year.
In Westbridge there were 16 calls – up from 4 in 2012. In Beaverdell, there were 73 calls, up from 61.
In Grand Forks Rural Area D, there were 580, down from 752 and in Christina Lake there were 553 calls, down from 573 in 2012.
Harrison has been presenting to the other Boundary municipalities. He was also in Greenwood earlier this week and Mayor Nipper Kettle posted on his Facebook group, saying the numbers were interesting and that the local RCMP were able to reduce the crime rate through their dedication and hard work.