RCMP lobbying for more officers in Oliver, Penticton

·6 min read

The South Okanagan RCMP’s top cop is continuing to lobby for additional officers in Penticton and Oliver as the two municipalities saw higher crime rates and case loads in 2019 according to a report from the province.

Supt. Brian Hunter and detachment commanders from the South Okanagan presented quarterly crime stats with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) protective services committee at their Feb. 4 meeting.

Hunter reviewed the latest numbers from the province’s 2019 Police Resources in BC report, the most recent numbers from the province comparing stats from the 199 provincial jurisdictions policed by the RCMP in B.C.

The crime rate in Oliver was 48 per cent higher compared to the provincial average in 2019 and the case load per officer in Oliver was at 117, 72 per cent higher than the provincial average in 2019.

The provincial average crime rate is 77, with rural Penticton at 76, but the case load per-officer is 137, 101 per cent of the provincial average.

“I do have a business case for both rural Penticton and Oliver for additional policing resources to be provided by the B.C. government. The numbers speak for themselves and with that the Southeast District commander has endorsed those business cases and has presented them to our criminal operations officer at E Division who will approach the provincial government. As you know, last year we did an extra provincial resource for Penticton and Oliver so we’re hoping for the same again this year.” Supt. Brian Hunter said.

The provincial component of the RCMP in Osoyoos saw a crime rate nine per cent higher than provincial average in 2019, and the provincial RCMP case load is 19 per cent lower than the provincial average. RCMP in municipal Osoyoos saw a crime rate 31 per cent lower than provincial average in 2019 and the case load per officer is 15 per cent lower than the provincial average.

In 2021, the South Okanagan RCMP have been teaming up with Interior Health assisting to responding to calls for service for those in crisis, Hunter said.

“It’s generally not a police matter it’s a medical crisis and partnering with Interior Health will enhance their safety and the safety of our members so I’m very excited about that,” Hunter said.

The Penticton RCMP has also launched the early stages of a prolific offender management program in January, partnering with probation and Crown counsel to and other partner agencies identify prolific offenders.

“The whole idea is that the very small percentage of our criminals are creating a lot of the havoc in our community, so I’m very excited about that. It’s going to give our judiciary the opportunity to have a more fulsome court package when we have these clients before a judge for remanding or sentencing,” Hunter said.

New detachment commander for the Oliver RCMP, Sgt. Don Wrigglesworth, said he is still in the “honeymoon phase” and things are going well at the detachment since he came on as commander.

Wrigglesworth provided an overview of a few concerns during the RCMP’s presentation to the RDOS board. One of the trends included domestic violence on the rise across jurisdictions, likely due to pandemic-related factors.

“There has been coverage across the country talking about increased trends in domestic violence perhaps with people spending a little bit too much time in close quarters together,” Wrigglesworth said.

He also attended is first Community Active Support Table (CAST) meeting in Oliver.

“I have been researching it myself and sat in on a meeting yesterday just to observe, review and look at the resources and how they go about identifying individuals where different aspects of community support can come together and see what we can do for these people. So that’s a work in progress for me,” Wrigglesworth said.

Wrigglesworth has also been involved with discussions surrounding the possible supportive housing proposed for Oliver.

“I’m a strong supporter of supportive housing and working towards that. Again, I’m just s small piece of the puzzle who has some opinions and I’m happy to share them, but not right now,” Wrigglesworth said.

Year-end Osoyoos crime stats

Total calls for service to the Osoyoos RCMP were up 10 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, with 2,916 calls throughout the year. The top call for service for Osoyoos RCMP in 2020 was traffic incidents with 49 calls, property-related calls at 36.

Violent crime rose 33 per cent in Osoyoos in 2020 when compared to 2019 numbers with a total of 153 cases. There were 66 case files related to assault in Osoyoos in 2020, up 20 per cent from 2019. Sex offences rose 25 per cent in 2020, with 15 cases compared to 12 in 2019. There were 22 cases of domestic violence in Osoyoos in 2020, up from 20 at the same time last year.

Property crime mostly dipped in 2020, with some exceptions. Theft from vehicles rose 32 per cent in Osoyoos in 2020, with police opening 54 case files throughout the year compared to 41 in 2019. Shoplifting rose from seven files generated in 2019 to 19 in 2020. Instances of fraud in Osoyoos increased by 23 per cent, with 59 cases, up from 48 in 2019.

Year-end Oliver crime stats

Total calls for service for Oliver RCMP were down 16 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, with 3,107 calls to the department throughout the year. The top call for service to the Oliver RCMP in the fourth quarter of 2020 (October to December) was to assist fire and ambulance, with 60 calls, with the second highest call for service seeing 40 calls for traffic incidents. Theft was the third highest call for service was theft with 36 calls.

Domestic violence was up 39 per cent in Oliver in 2020 compared to 2019, with 39 files generated throughout the year compared to 28 in 2019. Sex offences dropped 11 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, with police responding to 16 sex offences in Oliver in 2020.

Violent crime was down in Oliver in 2020 with the department opening 219 files throughout the year, down 23 per cent from 2019.

Most property crime was down in Oliver in 2020 compared to 2019. The biggest dip in property crime in Oliver was bicycle theft, down 79 per cent with only 5 files generated throughout the year, compared to 24 in 2019. Mischief to property was up 23 per cent in Oliver compared to 2019, with RCMP generating 132 files in 2020 compared to 107 in 2019. Shoplifting and fraud were also on the rise in Oliver in 2020, with 33 files generated for shoplifting compared to 26 in 2019. There were 61 police files generated for fraud in Oliver in 2020, up from 47 in 2019.

Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle