The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on Penticton crime, according to the detachment’s top cop. That’s a good thing, because the City’s police force already faces a crushing case load.
Penticton RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter brought January to March policing statistics to city council today, April 21.
He said members at the detachment are seriously overworked, calling the case load the highest in the province at 109 cases per officer, compared to the median of 59.
“There’s not a close second in the province. Police are going from call to call to call. We triage each call, we need to prioritize calls,” Hunter said.
He said an analysis of the statistics from March 18, the day after the province declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to April 16, revealed some crime statistics to be higher for the same period last year, but those numbers were tempered by the fact they were up for rest of the year as well.
Hunter said during the COVID-19 period, theft from vehicles rose by 38 per cent compared to last year, but those stats were also up for the January to March period, compared to the year before.
“Violent crime remained roughly the same. Crime is up because of issues in the community,” Hunter said, adding the community had a particular issue with property crime.
COVID-19 restrictions have affected the RCMP’s ability to keep criminals off the street, Hunter said, as courts are limiting the number of people being incarcerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We previously remanded those involved in serious crimes, but there are few in custody now. We’ve made a number of arrests involving business thefts in the city, but they are back in the community.”
Hunter also noted an increase in incidents of flight from police, telling council police have been involved in seven instances this year, compared to none last year. Of those seven, three involved the suspect ramming a police vehicle.
“It’s a complete disregard for life and community,” he said.
The Penticton RCMP detachment answered 4,773 calls for service so far this year, up eight per cent over last year.
Property crime was up 23 per cent from last year with 1,209 incidents.
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