TAYLOR, B.C. – The Fort St. John RCMP provided its annual report for 2021 to the District of Taylor on Monday evening.
Detachment Commander for the RCMP Inspector Anthony Hansen presented the update to the council and painted a picture of last year’s crime and law enforcement in the District.
The detachment’s entire service area saw 4,111 criminal code calls over the past year. Rural calls, including Taylor, made up 763 of those calls. Taylor specifically saw 513 of these calls for service.
“Taylor does not have a high level of crime. And the crime has overall decreased notably in the last year,” Hansen told the council members during his presentation. “Which is a positive thing.”
The number of overall calls for service are trending slightly downwards from previous years.
Of the overall volume of calls for service in Taylor, 29 calls were person-related offences, 37 were property, and 21 were of a different nature. Police received 29 calls relating to impaired drivers.
In a small town that straddles a major highway, vehicle incidents will often be higher than average in similar-sized towns, according to Hansen.
Last year, there was one fatal car accident and seven incidents where people were injured. There were 26 damage-only accidents.
Common assault calls accounted for five of the calls to the District, whereas aggravated assault counted for nine. There was one robbery, two sexual offenses, four cases of spousal assault, and twelve threats uttered.
Property crimes in the District included five break and enters into businesses and three into residences. There were also seven vehicle thefts and four thefts from inside a vehicle.
One case of shoplifting, five cases of theft, and sixteen cases of mischief were seen in Taylor over the course of 2021.
There were also eight calls for public disturbances last year.
Numbers—and types of crimes seen—can vary widely from year to year, according to the inspector. Though the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected not only the decrease in crime but also the types of crime, a lot depends on who lives in the community in any given year, said Hansen.
Offences under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act are part of a similar story that changes based on who resides in the area.
There were two cases of cocaine trafficking in Taylor and four counts of possession of any controlled substance overall. There were two overdoses that the RCMP categorized as such in Taylor in 2021.
Recent changes to the provincial laws surrounding simple possession (namely, decriminalization of small amounts of controlled substances) may alter the way drug-related crime looks in the region.
“The numbers next year may look considerably different,” Hansen told council.
But the inspector was not certain how drastically the change in law would affect the number of cases, simply because the charge is rarely laid even if technically warranted.
“I’d further clarify that, even though the RCMP have been able to charge people with simple possession until this point, in reality, the police are very cognizant of the opioid crisis and what’s going on in society… so we generally don’t charge for simple possession,” he explained. Simple possession is often a charge only laid if it is in connection with another offence, like assault.
“With hard drugs it all depends on the individual and the circumstance,” Hansen said. The detachment can look to third parties to assist that individual with their addiction.
Currently, the Fort St. John detachment (which serves the District of Taylor as well) has 38 municipal officers and 12 provincial officers. The detachment also employs three members in Indigenous policing services.
Three RCMP members in Fort St. John are on medical leave and one is on leave without pay. Three members have transferred out of the area (four transfers are upcoming). The department also has four recruits on board.
Though crime has been trending downwards in the District for the last couple of years, Mayor Rob Fraser noted in response to the update that only time would tell if crime would bounce back to pre-COVID levels.
“We’ve got to look at that next year to see if things bounce back to pre-COVID times,” he said.