The Port Alberni RCMP’s new crime reduction unit has seen immediate results, and it’s only been operating part-time for a few months.
Inspector Brian Hunter attributes that to the fact the team took four chronic offenders off the streets—and suddenly, the number of break and enters went down.
The total number of calls in the first quarter of 2017 also went down, Hunter told Port Alberni City Council on Monday
Hunter compared the number of reported offences in the city of Port Alberni in 2016 and 2017, noting that the total calls for services at the detachment went down from 1,976 to 1,839. This is a five-year low, he said.
When it comes to property crime, there was an increase in break and enters, thefts, and thefts from vehicles.
“We had a really classic example of chronic offenders,” said Hunter. “It’s the very small portion of our criminal element creating a lot of issues for us.”
Hunter noted that several break and enters occurred over the quarter. “We tracked those people down and made some arrests,” he said. “We linked well over 30 percent of all of the break and enters and thefts down to four people.”
The detachment’s new two-person crime reduction model was implemented full-time starting at the beginning of April, although it has been in operation part time for months.
“Three of the four are still in custody,” Hunter of the chronic offenders. “We have multiple charges on these individuals that created havoc in our community. A lot of the numbers you see there are a result of these individuals in our community.”
“It’s just an example of how just a few people can really set the crime rate off in a community. All of our stolen vehicles both here and rural area were related to three individuals.”
Mayor Mike Ruttan asked to what extent crimes are substance abuse related, and Hunter replied that when it comes to mental illness and drug addictions, the number is large.
“Mental illness alone, dealing with those folks, they often get into crime as well,” he said. “It’s very taxing on the police, for sure. This is not just Port Alberni, this is all communities across the country. A lot of them don’t belong in my cell block. We’re working with our partner agencies to get these folks the help they need. It comes down to resources.”
Hunter briefly discussed the Trevor Oakley case, noting that it has been transitioned from a missing person to a murder investigation.
“I can’t speak to it to much, it’s obviously under investigation and I will have to leave it at that,” he said. “I can say that this is not a situation where your average person in the community is walking down the street and they’re in danger. That’s not what we have on our hands here. We have a very good idea what happened, and the folks involved are known to the police and certainly known to each other.”
Hunter also mentioned the town hall meeting that took place on April 5. “From my perspective, it was a huge success.”
Since the meeting, he said he has received plenty of communication about drugs in the community. “It shows me that the community is talking about it,” he said. “I think we can look forward to more town hall meetings. I think it’s something that the community enjoyed, and it’s certainly something that they need.”
Councillor Sharie Minions brought up needles found on the ground, and Hunter said emergency personnel don’t want members of the public picking up used needles; they should call either the RCMP or the fire department and someone will come and properly dispose of discarded needles.
Hunter concluded that the detachment’s priorities for this year include traffic and road safety, family violence, crime reduction with a focus on property crime and drug offences, Aboriginal policing, and youth engagement.