The IIO is investigating after a police dog bit a man during a traffic stop near Ladysmith on April 17, 2021. (Black Press Media stock photo)

Sparwood RCMP update: Staff shortage, questions about travel orders and more

The local detachment is currently short-staffed, though core services are not impacted

RCMP crime and reporting statistics for the last three months of 2020 in Sparwood were roughly the same as 2019 according to Corporal Dan Hay of the Elk Valley Detachment.

“Despite the pandemic we’re seeing similar criminal code levels as other years,” he said during a report to the Sparwood council. There were 90 criminal code offences in the reporting period.

Looking at the numbers, there were 301 calls for service within the district in October, November and December last year, down from 314 at the same time in 2019.

Drug, liquor act and bylaw offences were down, but the number of collisions reported was up to 31 in the last quarter, compared to 23 at the same time in 2019.

Reporting on the state of the local detachment and what they were seeing around the area, Hay said that they were dealing with a staff shortage, exacerbated by a recent promotion and transfer of a senior officer.

“While we’re not at critical levels, it still impacts our services. Our core services are being managed … (but) things like our school visits are not happening.”

The detachment will have a new corporal transferred into the area within the next few weeks.

The detachment was also fielding a lot of questions about the ongoing travel orders, said Hay.

“Whenever those orders change we get quite a few calls,” he said, but added that the number of calls for the most recent batch of orders had died down in the last week.

On COVID-19 complaints, only one call was made in the reporting period, but Hay said that the number of calls had increased in the following period (January-March) which he was yet to update council on.

“As the restrictions change we get more complaints, but in (that quarter) COVID 19 really wasn’t much of an impact in terms of driving complaints for us

“I think we will see an increase in calls as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.”

Hay also reported that he planned to include more information on the number of mental health calls the RCMP were receiving going forward.

“Mental Health calls are a pressure I don’t think has been reported on in our quarterly reports. It is an intermittent pressure, but they do seem to come in waves, so I think moving forward with other quarterly reports we’ll report more on that, just so council is aware of the impact on us.

“The health services staff in the elk valley are fantastic, they do their jobs very well and they’re an excellent partner with us. But its a pressure we seem to see increasing year to year.”

Finally, Hay said there were plans for the Elk Valley detachment to create a social media presence in the near future, which would allow them to widen the reach of their press released.

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