DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The Dawson Creek RCMP released their 2021 year-end report last month, with Detachment Commander and Staff Sgt. Damon Werrell presenting the annual findings to city council at their January 24th meeting.
The detachment responded to 8,874 calls for service in 2021, up only eight percent from 2020, which saw 8,186 calls. 79 percent of the 2021 calls for service were within the City of Dawson Creek, and 21 percent was within the rural areas, a nine percent and six percent increase over last year, respectively.
Werrell says 2020 calls for service were an “anomaly”, with significant decreases across all crime types, but increased in 2021.
“That can likely be attributed to the restrictions that were put in place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020,” notes Werrell.
“So at that time, we had entertainment industry closures, we had travel advisories or restrictions in place, and I think that really affected our crime stats and decreased the calls for service we were receiving at the time.”
He adds crime has generally trended downward since 2017, with property crime making up half of all calls.
Over the past year, break and enter to residences increased by 39 percent, break and enter to businesses by 53 percent, general theft by 31 percent and sexual assault by 19 percent. However, drug trafficking and drug possession dropped by 51 percent.
434 files were submitted to crown counsel for charge approval.
Property crime and persons crimes will be the policing focus moving forward in 2022, adds Werrell.
2021 calls were broken into these categories:
The detachment rounded out the year with three hard vacancies and six soft vacancies on Dec. 31. Werrell confirmed a new corporal will transfer to Dawson Creek soon, while a new recruit started in January, and a 10-year officer expected to arrive in March.
Four of the soft vacancies are away on maternity or paternity leave, with the other two members are off duty for personal illness or injury, with at least three member from that group expected to return to work in one or two months.
One officer had fallen and broken her hip, notes Werrell, but has since recovered. He expects she’ll be back to work in mid-February.
“I expect we’ll see between six or seven more officers back on the road, and that puts us in a great position coming into the summer and the warmer months, when our calls for service pick up,” says Werrell. “And quite honestly, that’s going to be the best resourcing picture I’ve seen in the four years that I’ve been here.”
Werrell says the detachment has a series of objectives they’re aiming to complete in 2022, such as holding two impaired roadblocks each month, releasing monthly property crime prevention tips, cultural awareness training, and taking part in a restorative justice program.
A meeting was scheduled on Jan. 28 to meet with Treaty 8 representatives to arrange cultural awareness training. According to report, the detachment liaison met with the opiate team several times last year and was given naloxone kits for hand out to at-risk community members. The liaison continues to meet with the team.
Contact has also been made with the RCMP’s ‘E’ Division restorative justice coordinator, and a restorative justice coordinator in Fort St John. No timelines have been set, but the detachment is seeking a non-profit society interested in taking on a restorative justice program for the area.
A response plan for high-risk domestic violence matters is also being worked on by another DC RCMP liaison, part of the Interagency Case Assessment Team (ICAT), added the report.
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