Reopening of RCMP public services delayed by PPE supply

Crime stats relatively stable for first quarter of 2020 compared to last year

As B.C. enters phase two of the “B.C. Restart Plan” some police services, including the Prince George (PG) RCMP detachment, are reopening their front counter services, but not in Smithers.

Smithers detachment Staff Sgt. Terry Gillespie said, while they have a plan for reopening, the problem is ensuring the safety of both staff and the public.

“One of the main issues is finding enough PPE, personal protective equipment, for staff because obviously that’s in short supply everywhere,” he said. The amount of supply we have right now is just barely enough for us to maintain our policing operations so trying to find more and have a consistent supply of the extra PPE is proving to be a challenge.”

In a press release this morning, PG RCMP said non-essential services including fingerprint and Police Information Checks (PICs) would be available starting today. Staff, it said, would wearing PPE and also provide the equipment to clients depending on the service being requested.

Also challenging, Gillespie said, has been the members balancing their own lives through the pandemic.

“Certainly it’s been a challenging time for them, even with their families, spouses have lost jobs and that type of thing or their kids haven’t been in school, so trying to juggle that with work has been very challenging for sure,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said they have been maintaining their level of service aside from a couple of major incidents earlier in the quarter that kind of raised their clearance times for a while.

“Things seem to have kind of settled down into the normal pace,” he said. “This last weekend, of course, was quite busy because it was the long weekend, which was to be expected, but it certainly seems to have levelled out, it was quite high there for a while.”

He said there have been no major crimes in the past few weeks.

“I’m thankful for that,” he added.

In his last quarterly report to council, presented at the regular meeting May 12, Gillespie reported that the Jan. 1 to April 30 period was more or less on par with the same period last year.

Members generated 1,153 files during the quarter compared with 1,110 in 2019. Of these 306 were drug- or alcohol-related and 51 were violence in relationship files. In 2019, those numbers were 298 and 45 respectively.

There were a total of 112 crimes against persons, 115 property crimes, 13 controlled drugs and substances charges and 21 criminal traffic violations.

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