Crime rates stay steady in Kamloops despite 'anomaly' 2016 - InfoNews

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Crime rates stay steady in Kamloops despite 'anomaly' 2016

Kamloops RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller (left), and Insp. Todd Balaban, who's new to the detachment, at the city's community safety meeting on Jan. 29.
January 30, 2018 - 2:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - Crime rates are holding steady in Kamloops as the number of calls for service in 2017 stays on track with numbers from the previous year.

Despite an increase in gun violence during the last three months of 2017, the number of offences police responded to last year was relatively similar to 2016.

At a community safety meeting yesterday, Jan. 30, Kamloops RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller told city officials that calls for service were trending downward in the first two months of 2017, but thanks to a summer of wildfires and the death of a prominent gang member, numbers started climbing in the last two months.

“We’re busier," Mueller said. "We’ve seen that increase, and certainly that speaks to why I’ve come back to the city and asked for increased resources."

Mueller presented a proposal to city council last year asking for additional funding for more officers. The City approved that motion but it will likely take a while before there are more boots on the ground.

Last year, Mueller called 2016 an "anomaly", stating there were a higher number of calls for service than normal, much of which could have been attributed to an influx of transient people coming through the city.

The high number of calls that year led to a higher crime severity index for the city of Kamloops, which is calculated by Statistics Canada every year.

But with wildfires, the opioid crisis, and increased gun violence in the city, 2017 was just as busy for RCMP.

The top reported offence in the city within the past year was theft from motor vehicles, taking up approximately 12 per cent of total calls, with nearly 2,200 files reported.

It's an issue Kamloops RCMP has been vocal about in recent years, urging residents to keep their vehicles locked and their valuables out of sight.

The total number of calls for service in 2017 was down approximately two per cent compared to the year previous, while the number of actual offences reported to police was up 6.3 per cent this year.

During the last quarter of 2017, the Kamloops RCMP responded to an additional 244 files from the same period the year previous. There was also an overall increase of about 12 per cent in criminal offences.

Some of the increases included crimes against a person, including sexual assault and assault, crimes against property including residential break and enters, and other offences including weapons possession, which increased by 20 additional files.

Mueller also told the community safety meeting that there were five charges related to the use of the BAIT vehicle.

"In the beginning of 2018, the crime reduction unit and criminal intelligence unit will collaborate to identify offenders with numerous long-standing, outstanding warrants," the RCMP's status report states. "In targeting these offenders and bringing them before the courts, investigations can move forward and clearance rates will increase."

Mueller raised concerns during the meeting about the prominence of firearms incidents in the city. In 2017, there were 12 incidents of shots fired, compared to six the year previous.

"This quarter we saw a unique situation. We dealt with the Konaam Shirzad homicide and the fallout from that," Mueller said.

Shirzad co-founded the notorious Red Scorpions gang. He was murdered at the end of September and a suspect has not yet been charged in that case.

The RCMP's status report details the concerns around the vacuum which resulted from Shirzad's death, and led to low to mid-level drug dealers trying to fill the void in the Kamloops drug trade.

Mueller said police are currently working on several projects targeting mid and low-level drug dealers.

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