Looking back over the past 12 months, the Greater Trail RCMP detachment commander recalls a few jarring crimes that happened in the last four months of the year — a close-call for two Mounties in October and weeks before, a jolt into the violent reality of local organized crime.
But Sgt. Mike Wicentowich also observes that preventable offences have dropped. He largely credits the public in helping to knock down crimes of opportunity, like theft from vehicles, by practicing the “lock it or lost it” approach to valuables.
At the end of the day, the sergeant says that while unspecified calls for police assistance increased slightly last year, overall calls for police service in 2022 remained close in number to the year previous.
“(Last year) had an impact on the Trail detachment and communities it serves,” Wicentowich began in his year-end summary.
He mentioned the night of Oct. 25 when Francis Paradis, a 29-year old from Quebec, allegedly opened fire at police and three paramedics at the Trail ambulance station, located on the East Trail bench near Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital.
“We had a very close call with two of our officers whose quick action and bravery turned a potentially deadly tragedy into a successful arrest of alleged criminal,” he said. Notably, Paradis remains in custody with seven outstanding charges including attempted murder and discharging a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Next, Wicentowich recounted the early morning of Sept. 9, when a car bomb went off outside an 8th Avenue home in Montrose, egregiously injuring the victim.
“An explosion of a bomb in Montrose rocked all of us and showed our citizens that organized crime is everywhere today,” he said.
Wicentowich confirmed to the Trail Times that the victim, a 41-year old Montrose man, is alive, recovering from his injuries. The investigation is ongoing.
As far as theft, Wicentowich had an encouraging message to share.
“Property crimes and theft from vehicles went down because the public fought back against criminals by locking their vehicle doors.”
He says another factor leading to the drop in certain calls, such as a “suspicious person” report, has to do with the return to the world, post-COVID shutdowns. Wicentowich points out most people spend less time at home now, so reporting suspicious incidents in neighbourhoods has fallen off.
Calls also dropped sharply after the RCMP and Interior Health revisited police attendance at the hospital for mental health related incidents.
That said, residents are still calling the police for assistance and guidance, he adds.
“I believe it has to do with the trust and professionalism of our members.”
Finally, Wicentowich notes that the upcoming decriminalization of small amounts of drugs is already affecting local investigations, as evidenced by the drop from 45 drug cases to eight in the fourth quarter (October to December).
“Often investigation into small amount of drugs leads to much bigger discoveries by officers,” he explains. “Officers in the future will have to develop new tools when investigating drug trafficking.”
Lastly, he thanks everyone who participated in the Greater Trail community justice program in 2022.
“Together we can all make a difference and keep our communities safe.”
To see the list of year-end statistics visit: trailtimes.ca.