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Trail RCMP sergeant sheds light on latest crime stats

Trail police responded to 4,151 calls for service over the first nine months of 2022 …
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Trail and District RCMP Sgt. Mike Wicentowich shed some light on the third quarter (Q3) crime report.

Trail RCMP released its mayor’s report, which covers all the police call-outs in Greater Trail from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2022.

In the crime category, the total calls for service for the municipalities of Greater Trail declined to 1,540 in the third quarter of 2022, from 1,677 in 2021. Criminal code investigations also decreased modestly in Q3 from 504 in 2021 to 491 in 2022.

“It is (a lot of calls), but we usually sit around 1,600 so the fact we are under that by 60 is a little bit of a variance, but we’re usually pretty solid between 1,600 and 1,700,” explained Wicentowich. “So as far as I can tell, post pandemic, is that we are staying fairly steady.”

A highlight for the police report was a dramatic reduction in thefts from motor vehicles which dropped from 49 in 2021 to 11 in 2022.

“The one thing I really liked was that theft from motor vehicles was down,” said Wicentowich. “Which is likely due to our ongoing campaign of telling people to lock their cars or at least remove valuables from inside the car, and that seems to be working.”

Police dealing with violent persons increased from 67 to 72, with Trail leading with 51 call outs, and property crimes also saw an increase from 183 to 192.

The number of assaults in the City of Trail increased from 19 in Q3 of 2021 to 26 in 2022, while Fruitvale, Rossland and Regional District of Kootenay Boundary each saw two assaults for a total of 32 compared to 27 over the same time last year.

Wicentowich explained that although there is a modest increase in violent incidents, it is within the range of expectation.

“If it was above 50 or 60 it would be a concern, but that seems about normal especially for the summer months when people are out drinking and socializing, and getting into trouble sometimes.”

The only homicide attempt occurred in the 200 block of 8th Avenue in Montrose Sept. 9, when an incendiary device was planted in a man’s car. Police say the attempt was linked to organized crime and drug trafficking.

Sexual offences were down from nine to four, auto theft from 11 to six, and drug investigations went from 25 to 16 over the same time last year.

Mental health related calls were down from 78 to 60, files involving drug and alcohol from 93 to 71, and domestic violence down to six incidents from nine last year.

However, Wicentowich said that many calls earlier in the year came from the Daily Pavilion at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, which are now handled internally.

“We’ve responded there less, so that does reflect in our service. But as well, 60, that is just out in the community and still quite high, and actually, we would like to reduce that down to zero if we could and see if other services can handle that.”

Police well-being checks increased from 93 to 102, suspicious person/vehicles/occupant decreased from 269 to 200, and unspecified assistance from 154 to 148, with 114 of those in Trail.

“There is a lot of drugs, alcohol and mental health related issues across all of the crime spectrum, but with these particular calls, there seems to be less,” said Wicentowich.

“I wouldn’t say it’s not improving, in the sense that mental health is ever-present, but I do see more participation by Interior Health with people out in the street, street workers are connecting with patients on the street, which is a critical function when dealing with street population or vulnerable people.”

One of the greatest frustrations in policing across the province is the “presumption of release” when arresting those who have committed crimes.

“We have the criminal law on our side and we can use it, but it’s actually a pretty poor deterrent when someone is addicted to drugs and mental health, there’s only so much we can do.”

If the charge or a conviction is considered minor, in most cases, the courts will release the person.

“What they consider minor is literally everything except murder,” said Wicentowich. “So we find we are dealing with the same people all the time, and it is very challenging to use law, so that is why we are asking to increase supports.”

Wicentowich encourages the City of Trail to continue efforts to develop more supportive housing and increase mental health and drug addiction supports, which will go a long way to reducing crime in Trail’s downtown core as well.

One of the greatest challenges for the Trail RCMP this year has been staffing shortages.

“Honestly it’s resourcing, and it’s internal, but we are down substantially with officers,” said Wicentowich. “Policing is very hard on mental health and physical health, and sometimes people go off work to recover from both types of injuries, and they can be a very long process to get them well and back to work.”

The Trail RCMP responded to 4,151 calls for service over the first nine months of 2022, averaging more than 15 service calls per day. In 2021 the police received 4,550 service calls for that same period, Jan. 1 to Sept. 30.

Recruiting new police officers has also been difficult since COVID, with a depleted work force affecting many businesses and organizations. Wicentowich is still hopeful that there are those who will consider policing as a career. He encourages any interested to participate in a ride along to gain a better understanding of the invaluable service.

“Even if you don’t intend to stay in policing or government service, there is actually quite a lot of value in having a job, one: for your resume, but also seeing how the public service works. I think as a person, you will grow a lot.

“You’ll realize how your contribution to society counts, and I think you can carry that with you to any career.”

Jim Bailey

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