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Brazen attitude of prolific offenders bogging down Kelowna RCMP: top cop

Kelowna RCMP Supt. Kara Triance.

It’s not just that 63% of Kelowna’s property crimes are committed by 10% of the criminals that troubles RCMP Supt. Kara Triance and her officers.

That’s combined with and increasingly brazen attitude of some of those offenders towards, not only police, but towards the public at large.

Triance, while giving her quarterly update on crime statistics to Kelowna City Council today, May 30, put a more personal view on some of the problems on Kelowna streets.

READ MORE: Cases of assault with a weapon take big jump in Kelowna: RCMP

“In this past quarter, we had a 20-year-old drug addicted female attempting to steal a cart full of tools and, in that, bear sprayed multiple people when they were detained by the staff,” she said. “They rammed an employee with the cart they were trying to steal.

"That brazen attitude, that lack of respect for law enforcement but also the loss prevention officers, can be referenced multiple times. This isn’t once. This isn’t twice. There’s a lot of these reports going out.”

With that attitude came the fact that the woman had numerous outstanding warrants for her arrest on theft charges. She spent 10 days in jail but is now out while awaiting a trial date.

Another man was stopped as he was driving while prohibited. He, too, had numerous charges against him and had failed to show up for court dates but was released on $800 bail.

Less than three weeks later, on May 23, he was arrested again, this time while speeding on a motorcycle and was found carrying a loaded gun. He’s now in jail awaiting his trial.

Those are just two of the examples Triance gave to show the heavy workload police are facing now that people are out and about more since COVID restrictions have eased.

Auto thefts have increased 47.8% but that has more to do with people leaving keys in unlocked vehicles, sometimes while they’re idling outside homes or businesses, than being broken into and hot-wired, she said.

Shoplifting incidents are also up significantly from pre-pandemic levels.

Sometimes the shoplifters are people in desperate need of food but, more often, it’s people stealing to sell the items in order to support drug habits.

The calls to deal with people suffering severe metal health crises are up as well.

Traince noted that one of her police officers was stabbed and has permanent injuries and security guard Harmandeep Kaur was killed, both by men suffering severe mental health crises.

READ MORE: A 'history of violence' around man accused of killing UBCO security guard

“I raise all of these issues this quarter as a need for system alignment, health response to people who are in crisis,” Triance said. “Those have to be alternatives to jail and the hospital. We know jail is not the right place for someone in mental health crisis. We also know that the hospital is full and they’re treating people who have acute injuries.”

That means more health and other resources are needed to deal with people in crisis.

One thing that is showing positive results is the Kelowna Integrated Court where offenders are ordered into things like treatment programs.

But there are times when no treatment programs are available and people are often released from jail with no place to live and unable to afford rent so they end up homeless and returning to crime, Triance said.

There are also no places for people with complex needs to be housed. There are 23 people who have gone through the integrated court who have been identified with complex needs.

The court is now one-year-old and successful but it is only being run as a two-year pilot project so there is no guarantee of ongoing funding, Triance said.

Now she's gearing up for a busy summer tourist season by bringing in outside staff, including the provincial gang task force quite a few weekends and special investigation teams.

When it comes to drug enforcement, the focus will be on gangs, drug dealing and violence, rather than targeting drug users, she said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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