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Assaults with a weapon, domestic violence on the rise in Kelowna: RCMP superintendent

Kelowna Police Services. File / Global News

Violent crime is on the rise in Kelowna, and the COVID-19 pandemic is shouldering the blame.

In a report headed to city council Monday, RCMP Supt. Kara Triance said that from 2019 to 2021, there was a 33 per cent increase in social disorder calls from the downtown area, while person’s offences, which includes everything from threats to assaults, increased by 38 per cent.

Of note, common assaults, domestic violence, assaults with a weapon and files related to uttering threats increased each by more than 25 per cent.

This change has coincided with what the city’s top cop called an “alarming” increase in drug overdose files both fatal and non-fatal. Together, they are “increasing the workload and stress” of local RCMP, Triance wrote.

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From 2019 to 2021 there was a 77.8 per cent increase – from 18 to 32 respectively — in fatal overdoses that RCMP attended.

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Non-fatal overdose calls to RCMP rose by 74.4 per cent in that same time frame with there being 39 calls in 2019 and 68 in 2021.

“Kelowna is not immune to the trends in person offences being experienced in other communities across Canada,” Triance said in the report.

“These trends are concerning although some were anticipated as they relate to the effect that COVID-19 has had on personal, familial and community conditions and routines. Many of these are complex, entrenched issues, requiring a multi-system response.”

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Triance said that multi-system response is starting to emerge through endeavours such as Kelowna’s Community Safety Plan.

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“Kelowna RCMP remains committed to the development of innovative, long-term approaches that involve social, educational and health sectors,” Triance said.

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While there have been more crimes against people, property offences have started to increase as well though Triance said they are at a lower frequency than before the pandemic.

“Theft from motor vehicle and shoplifting numbers, although lower than 2019, are rising and result from a small number of prolific offenders for whom access to adequate care or consequences is limited,” she said.

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“The RCMP’s Community Safety Unit and Investigative Services are collaborating through a pilot project aimed at expanding capacity to address the increase in property-related crimes,” Triance said in the report to the council.

“Further, the detachment will continue to build strategic communication’s capacity and improve messaging to the public including promotion of the 9 p.m Routine and the importance of securing personal property.”

Commercial and residential break and enters, as well as auto theft increased from 2020 but not have not reached pre-pandemic levels.

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Some areas have seen improvements, however. Bike thefts from 2019 to 2021 are down 24 per cent and theft from a vehicle is down 17 per cent in the same period.

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The full report will be presented to council during the Monday afternoon meeting.

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