Penticton RCMP see jump in threat calls as pandemic wears on | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton RCMP see jump in threat calls as pandemic wears on

Pandemic and homeless issues were implicated in increased crime stats in a quarterly crime report presented to Penticton city council today.

Penticton RCMP detachment commander Supt. Brian Hunter said uttering threats incidents were up 63 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.

Hunter attributed the rise in threat calls to pandemic-related orders and regulations that has resulted in growing frustration among members of the public. He said the pandemic did not begin until late in last year’s first quarter.

“Quite a few of these incidents involved the retail industry, many concerning mask wearing. The incidents of abuse are completely unwarranted. Hopefully everyone will get on board with where we are at, be patient and follow orders,” Hunter said.

He also revealed high numbers of police calls to the social housing projects, including the controversial emergency winter shelter at the former Victory Church at 352 Winnipeg St. Police answered 290 calls for service to the shelter in the first quarter of 2021, compared to 110 calls to Compass Court, 45 calls to Burdock House and 19 calls to Fairhaven.

In response to a question from councillor Campbell Watt regarding the implications of such a large number of calls to the emergency shelter, the superintendent said there were no other addresses in the city that required such attention by police, at the same time noting the shelter’s 42 residents were probably among the city’s most marginalized people. Police did not give any special treatment to the addresses, in spite of the increased call volumes.

Hunter said there was also saw an increase in assaults — up 13 per cent from 104 incidents to 117 — with assaults against police up.

Break and enters were up 24 per cent from 29 to 36 per cent while calls about mischief to property were up 35 per cent from 312 to 420 incidents, 26 of those files coming from the Victory Church emergency shelter.

Hunter said he was excited to hear of a proposal for new supportive housing in Penticton that involves operators ASK Wellness and the Ooknakane Friendship Centre with a focus on treatment and recovery programs for the addicted, slated for development at 3240 Skaha Lake Road.

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