Calls for RCMP service dropped by about 10 per cent in 2013, Creston RCMP Staff Sgt. Bob Gollan has reported to Creston town council and the Creston Valley services committee.
A total of 3,660 calls were received last year, down from 4,008 in 2012.
“In 2012 our calls were higher than in previous years, so I can’t say this decline in calls is a trend,” Gollan said while presenting his annual policing report.
Fridays and Saturdays, not surprisingly, are the busiest days for police, while Mondays are the quietest. Monday through Thursday result in almost identical call numbers. The largest number of calls are made during business hours. The busiest months are July and August.
Gollan said nearly half of calls to the police are made from the Town of Creston (1,061), with the rural areas combining to make up the balance, the largest proportion from Erickson and points west.
Each year, the local detachment commander consults with local stakeholders to set policing priorities, he said. For 2012-13, he said, priorities with town were to increase police presence downtown, add bike patrols and to improve partnerships with the town and community groups.
“We have had a good start on this latter initiative and we are continuing to attend several community meetings, these include Creston Co-ordination for Women’s Safety, Creston Valley Community Network meetings and Creston and RDCK (Regional District of Central Kootenay) emergency planning meetings,” Gollan said.
Also, a fraud awareness program was presented to the public in March in partnership with Edward Jones representative Kerry Ross and Lectric Avenue, a Canyon Street electronics and computer store.
Increased visibility downtown and bike patrols are a challenge, he said, because of staffing issues. When Gollan made his presentation he had one constable off with an injury, one on long-term disability and one with ongoing health issues who has planned his retirement for later this year. One of the detachment’s two corporals has also recently announced retirement plans.
“On paper we have a complement of 15 officers, but we are not often at that level. Add in vacation time, illnesses and the time it takes to replace staff and it can be a real challenge ensuring we are ready to meet our day to day needs.”
On the positive side of the staffing equation, he said that one general investigator is no longer working exclusively on the Bountiful file, which is now before a special prosecutor.
In the longer term, he said, he would like to have an additional general investigative team headed by a corporal.
“Their mandate would be our prolific offenders, as this had proven to reduce the amount of crime in our area. As you can see by the statistics, by targeting the prolific offenders we cut down crime significantly.”
Gollan said he is working with Creston Fire Rescue to discuss the joint acquisition of a thermal imaging device that can monitor heat sources.
“It would serve a dual purpose,” he said. “Police can use it to detect heat sources for marijuana grow op investigations and the fire department uses it for search and rescue purposes.”
After consulting with the town, Gollan said his priorities for the coming year now include an increase in drug enforcement and education.
Of particular interest to council members was his comment that town financial director Steffan Klassen had recently discovered an anomaly in the provincial billing system that forces Creston to pay for the costs of keeping prisoners not arrested within town limits.
“There is a reimbursement pool that is distributed to communities, but it only pays for a small percentage of the actual costs,” Klassen said. “When a guard is brought in to watch over a prisoner that really isn’t the town’s, it ends up costing us a fair amount, perhaps as much as $40,000 last year.”
“I wasn’t aware of how this actually works,” Gollan admitted. “But it certainly isn’t fair.”
“Unfortunately it really only affects small communities, so I am not sure that we have much of a chance of getting the province to revisit the inequity,” Klassen said. “In larger centres there are usually a number of prisoners at all times, so it doesn’t cost much more if another is brought in, regardless of where they committed a crime. Here the difference in costs is significant.”