Kelowna RCMP’s year-end report to council suggests that some property offences, including auto theft and break-and-enters, are down by approximately a quarter in 2020.
However, during her update to council this week, Kelowna RCMP detachment’s officer-in-charge Supt. Kara Triance stressed the need for officers to continue to tackle property crime.
“We need to keep our pressure on the property crime offenders within our community and make sure that we are actively pursuing that work,” Triance said.
The Kelowna Census Metropolitan reported the fourth-highest crime severity index across the country for 2019.
RCMP are tackling the rising rate through proactive and intelligence-led policing, Triance said.
She attributed part of the drop to the street crimes team, who put a couple of prolific offenders in jail.
“We saw that as we doubled down on this intelligence-focused police work, we were able to make a true impact on bike theft, auto theft and break-and-enters to businesses.”
Although the 2020 crime rate as calculated by Statistics Canada has not been released yet, Triance said early indicators suggest that Kelowna might see a slight decrease.
A report to council showed that there was a drop in calls for service last year, with police responding to 58,740 calls in 2020, a 2.5 per cent decrease from 60,219 calls the previous year.
Triance noted that 10 per cent of calls for service came from the downtown core.
Because of that, Triance said the downtown foot patrol and bike patrol continue to be a priority, and RCMP are working to increase officer visibility downtown, particularly during the early morning and evening hours.
She said that a bait bike was deployed 47 times in 2020.
There were 11 thefts and 10 arrests because of the program, she added.
The report to council indicated bike theft in 2020 is down 20 per cent compared to 2019.
However, Kelowna saw a 15 per cent spike in domestic violence and an 18 per cent increase in common assaults.
During her report to council, Triance also addressed the impact of the pandemic.
“In 2020, we were fighting to get masks, much like our health care professionals,” she said. “It wasn’t about money. We just couldn’t get the equipment we needed to safely do our job.”
“These things were wearing on all of our officers.”
Triance also noted that responding to public health order violations has added to officers’ workload.
“One of the things that we’ve taken on is not only education to the public on public health orders, but also enforcement in the medical realm,” Triance said. “And that has been a learning curve for our police officers.”