Calls for police service in Smithers were up last year compared to the previous year.
Total calls for service year over year were down across the region the Smithers RCMP detachment covers, however, in town, they were significantly up.
Staff Sgt. Mark Smaill gave a quarterly policing update to Smithers town council on Tuesday, Jan 24.
In his report, he said total calls for service in 2021 were 5,230 and they were called out 5209 times in 2022. That is down 21 calls for the region, which covers Smithers, Witset, Telkwa, Fort Babine and surrounding areas.
However, just within Smithers town limits, calls were up by 120.
Smaill told council police are focused on working with community partners, to make the town a safe place to be.
“We have made a concerted effort to be out and visible and foot patrols, bike patrols during the summer months,” he said. “So it’s been a priority for us. And we continue to engage with business owners and the town’s staff to see how we can kind of make things better and safer in the downtown area.”
The detachment recently applied for additional funding through the Province to target enforcement toward the top threats to public safety in the area.
Smaill also told council that as result of this funding, the detachment was able to put resources toward investigations targeting drug trafficking and two recent searches were conducted during which drugs and drug trafficking evidence were seized. The files are still under investigation with charges to be recommended once investigations have wrapped up.
The RCMP has also been an active participant in the town’s Situation Table, a somewhat new rapid triage model. Informal and conversational by design, the meetings are carefully guided by a chair to identify persons or families pre-crisis, but facing situations of acutely elevated risk are recognized across multiple human service lenses while protecting personal privacy. The Table is not about enforcement but connecting individuals and families with the services they need before crimes are committed.
“It’s been an excellent forum for us to communicate with other community service providers. And the benefit of agency collaboration is seen on a weekly basis with this,” he said. “It’s allowed our frontline officers to refer some of the people in our community that are highest risk and provide them a little bit better service by getting some more support.”
Smaill also touched on volunteer engagement saying the detachment was the benefactor of an amazing policing group in the past. There have been recent efforts to start up a Citizens on Patrol group again, with a meeting last November.
“We’re in the process now of recruiting, vetting and we’re going to start with some training in the coming months. And we really would like to have that Citizens on Patrol group active before the summer months, you can see a decrease in calls over the winter, but we know that’s going to increase over the summer. And having more eyes and ears out there is going to be very beneficial to us,” he said.
Councillor Patterson asked him if there was a long-term strategy for crime prevention.
“I think really simply it’s just making sure that we’re engaged in the community and understanding what the needs are of the community. And I think by getting out and being visible, being accessible to the community, we know how to respond to what they’re asking,” he told her.
“So, for example, business owners in the downtown community, making sure we’re engaging with them to understand what their concerns and their needs are. Because it’s always changing and I think right now, for the town of Smithers, it’s been made very clear there are concerns in the downtown area.”
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