The Burns Lake RCMP has seen a sharp rise in calls in 2020 and the first two months of 2021 compared to previous years.
In a presentation given to the village council, the RCMP sergeant Shaunna Lewis said in her 30 years of service in the RCMP, “this definitely is one of the most tragic and challenging times for everyone including the policing universe.”
The most significant increase in service has been the RCMP’s check well-being and COVID-related calls in 2020. A check well-being call for example could be when somebody calls saying they haven’t heard from a relative and want the police to go by and make sure they are doing okay.
“These stats were not recorded in the past but it became clear that we needed them in 2020,” said Lewis, adding, “There is a very noticeable change in the types of calls we had in 2020.”
The RCMP saw a total of 3271 calls in 2020, which was nearly 300 more calls than 2019.
According to Lewis, while property crime had decreased along with traffic offences, there was an increase in assaults and alcohol and drug-related files.
The RCMP attended 220 assault calls, 32 drug calls and a whopping 1,092 alcohol/drug related calls in 2020. In 2021, in the month of January, the detachment attended to 22 assault calls, 5 drug calls and 112 alcohol/drug related calls, while in the month of February, the detachment attended to 13 assault calls and 65 alcohol/drug related calls.
One of the things that the detachment is discussing is to work with the mental health units and nurses to see if there is a need in the community and willingness to have the RCMP do patrols together with the healthcare workers, to residences in the community.
“It is going to be an ongoing discussion with everyone,” she said.
While the Burns Lake RCMP patrols the village they also patrol the rural areas and the neighboring First Nations communities. Of the 3,271 calls in 2020, they attended to 1,469 calls from the village, 757 from the rural areas and 861 from the First Nations communities. In 2021, the RCMP attended to 134 total calls from the village, 58 from the rural areas and 65 First Nation communities in January while 108 total calls from the village, 50 from the rural areas and 58 from the First Nations communities in February.
Apart from the changes in the calls, the Burns Lake detachment has seen a significant change in resources. Of the detachment’s 15 regular member positions, they had five members who transferred out and there were several shortages throughout the year due to personal reasons.
“But I think we are in the same boat as everyone in Canada. The good thing is that Regina is opening up training again in depot and they are expecting approximately 30 troops to go through so we should see some positions come through here,” said Lewis.
Some of the RCMP’s 2021 strategies include traffic safety and enforcement, working with high-risk individuals as well as working on mental health issues in the community.