With wildfires raging across the region, the Burns Lake RCMP detachment had its hands full over the summer.
According to corporal Greg Willcocks, the detachment was involved in the evacuation of residences and the safeguarding of properties on the Southside, as well as increased police presence in the downtown core.
“Due to the scale of the emergency situation, the detachment had to call in outside resources to assist,” explained Willcocks.
Once additional resources were received, detachment members focused on increasing police presence and visibility in Burns Lake.
Between May 1 and Aug. 31, the detachment conducted 143 foot patrols as part of its red zone program, which involves frequent foot patrols and enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy for substance abuse-related offenses and property crimes.
“These patrols are designed to increase our presence in the community and conduct enforcement action in the area as necessary,” said Willcocks, adding that these patrols resulted in 27 investigations this summer.
This increased enforcement action, combined with the general population increase due to the wildfires, led to an increase in some of the RCMP’s statistics compared to last year, according to Willcocks.
Public intoxication increased by 32 per cent this summer, with 47 investigations between May 1 and Aug. 31, compared to 32 investigations during the same period last year.
Cause a disturbance files also increased by 32 per cent, with 18 cases this summer compared to 13 cases last year.
Meanwhile property crime statistics decreased by 31 per cent, with 13 files last summer and nine cases during the same period in 2018.
Prisoner numbers for the Burns Lake detachment also decreased this year (27 per cent), with 326 prisoners between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2017, and 239 prisoners during the same period in 2018.
“This decrease can be largely attributed to enforcement action on prolific offenders,” explained Willcocks.
The Burns Lake detachment has been focusing on prolific offenders, with continual enforcement of court-ordered conditions and curfews.
“The Burns Lake RCMP realizes that it is often a very small percentage of the population that commits most of the crime,” said Willcocks. “By having regulated and tight enforcement on those offenders we can often deter them from committing additional offenses or catching them sooner and having them brought before the courts.”
RCMP searching for new detachment commander
The Burns Lake detachment is also in the process of searching for a new detachment commander.
“I do not have any information on when a new commander will be here; however, the job has been posted and they are in the process of reviewing the material and selecting a candidate,” explained Willcocks.
In the meantime, sergeant Shawn McLaughlin will be the acting detachment commander for Burns Lake.
Willcocks said a new corporal has also been identified and is expected to arrive in Burns Lake in a few months.
The Burns Lake detachment currently has no vacancies in the constable rank, and has some members extending.
“This is great news for the community as they are senior constables who have worked in the community for a number of years and are wanting to stay.”