The detachment has also seen a slight increase in criminal code infractions at 2,204, to which Egan posited, Who knows what all the forecasted development in the area is going to do to Fort St. John. Many informed people feel that there will be an increase in police business in the community.”
However, he points out that at the same time there were less people taken into custody.
Of those criminal code offences, crimes against persons have dropped seven per cent, including steady numbers for uttering threats, a decrease in common assaults, and an increase of assaults against police from one to five cases. As for more violent crimes, there was what Egan calls a “pretty dramatic decrease” in robberies from last year from 11 to 5, which is consistent to what it was in 2011.
“We had a bit of a spike in that last year, and in a town the size of Fort St. John, if you get one or two people in the mix, the numbers can vary drastically.”
Sex offences had a decrease of 24 per cent to 22 reports, aggravated assaults, assaults with a weapon, and assaults causing bodily harm were down 22 per cent to 38 instances, while attempts at murder have been consistent at two each first half of the year.
Meanwhile, crimes against property were up 22 per cent. Arson was slightly down with one less this year than last year with 12, while business break and enters are up one at 21, and residential break and enters are down two cases to 37.
“Those are very steady numbers,” says Egan.
However, instances of vehicle thefts have jumped to 69 from 55 in the first half of 2012 and 57 in 2011. Thefts from vehicles are also up 31 per cent from 108 in 2012 to 141 in 2013.
“We do have a bit of an issue with vehicle thefts,” admits Egan. “We are looking at strategies to convince people to lock their vehicles when you pull up to the convenience store. Surprisingly enough, there are quite a number of thefts that occur with that scenario.”
Police are also looking at phasing in tickets for not locking vehicles.
Shoplifting in Fort St. John has seen a gradual increase over the last three years to 52 in 2013, which Egan believes is due to more activity in stores. However, he adds that the numbers are much lower than 2009 when they were up at 119. General theft numbers are also up, from 119 in 2012 to 147 in 2013, while vandalism is down, which Egan likes to think is party due to the summer bike patrol program.
As for drug-related offences, Egan says they’re still seeing “quite a bit” of activity in town, with cocaine possession back up to be the same as 2011 at five, from one last year. After jumping from eight to 20 last year, cases of cocaine trafficking only increased by one over last year.
“What we’ve done in response to that, is we’ve actually moved some members into the drug section to bolster up the numbers of people doing those types of investigations,” explains Egan. “We’re focusing on the cocaine trade, and it’s something that we’re monitoring closely to see if we possibly need to divert more resources into that area.”
However, Egan admits that in order to increase attention to the cocaine trade, the sacrifice of less hours for the bike patrol program had to be made. The 12 marijuana possession cases are down from last year’s 18, but up from 2011’s eight, while marijuana trafficking is back up to four, after it dipped to one in 2012.
Due to the challenge to the province’s Immediate Roadside Prohibition law, the number of impaired drivers caught dipped last year, but is back up to 287, well over the 235 in 2011.
“Impaired drivers really are a menace to everyone,” says Egan, “and it’s good to see that the RCMP officers out on patrol are apprehending them and taking them off the road.”
Up until June 30th this year there was only one fatality from a motor vehicle collision, up from one last year and down from two in 2011. Injuries from MVIs have decreased to 41 from 49 in 2012 to be almost on par with the 40 in 2011. Accidents where only damage occurred and no injuries are up slighty to 169 from 152 last year, but down significantly from 195 in 2011.
Cases of public intoxication were down to 292 cases from 328 in 2012, when there were 260 in 2011, but Egan says the numbers can fluctuate due to how many times people call in to complain. The same goes for disturbances, which were up to 403 cases this year, from 314 last year and 392 the year before. Noise bylaw offences also increased to 169, up from 149 in 2012, but down from 175 in 2011. As for false alarms, RCMP has been working to increase public awareness about the issues they cause, and the numbers are starting to come down. There were 389 instances in 2013, down from the spike of 459 in 2012 after 410 in 2011.