During the January 22 District of Invermere council meeting, Staff Sergeant Marko Shehovac presented the Columbia Valley RCMP detachment’s year-end review for 2012.
The detachment is currently at full strength with two new recruits, who are expected to complete field training in February and April respectively.
The total number of service calls were substantially greater last year than in 2011 — 3,252 in 2012 compared to 2,136 the year before. However, Marko reminded council about technical difficulties which accounted for the difference. Throughout the District of Invermere, 773 calls for service were made last year compared to 611 in 2011.
Residents of Invermere have communicated to RCMP that they would like police to pay more attention to Kinsmen Beach after complaints of drug and alcohol use, while residents of Area G and F have requested more police visibility and patrolling.
And since the mill opened in Radium, complaints have been received about drivers speeding to and from the mill.
Shehovac spoke about his appreciation for feedback, thanking those who have helped the RCMP identify the community’s priorities, and mentioned the detachment is currently seeking input for next year.
Extra funding is normally allocated to the local detachment for seasonal policing, providing extra patrols throughout the summer and winter months. Invermere RCMP have $2,500 to spend this winter, which will be spent on hiring local officers to patrol the valley during their days off.
Shehovac said that local RCMP members have been pro-active in the community through minor hockey, junior hockey, Cadets and the volunteer fire department. He also mentioned the changing dynamics of the police force, stating that a lot more members now have children compared to recent years.
The top priorities for the 2012/13 year (April ‘12 to March ‘13), in order, are: education and enforcement against drug and alcohol abuse, visibility in the community, and traffic safety in the South East District and the “E” Division (British Columbia).
Regarding the number one goal of reducing drug and alcohol abuse in the community, the detachment had set a goal of charging ten prolific offenders and have since laid 25, Shehovac said. The detachment is also ensuring proper training in the Immediate Roadside Provision program to allow all members to fully enforce the law against impaired drivers.
Junior members are also being brought up to speed on carrying out search warrants; the detachment has seen a number of successes in “quality” charges resulting from search warrants. Two DARE Program classes were completed last year and three are planned for this year. The detachment also plans to instruct 15 educational sessions throughout the valley before the end of March and have managed to complete four so far.
To increase its visibility in the valley, the detachment had set the goal of attending 90 meetings — 63 had been attended by the end of December, while more officers will be conducting patrols through the winter thanks to the aforementioned seasonal policing funds. Also, the detachment encourages its members to be active in the community during their time off and is inviting the community to attend its open house in May. Furthermore, Shehovac mentioned local media as an effective method of keeping in contact with citizens who don’t regularly meet with the RCMP.
To combat traffic safety and roadside enforcement, the detachment had set a goal of charging 50 impaired drivers; 24 charges had been laid as of the date of Shehovac’s report. The detachment also plans on laying 800 traffic traffics in Invermere this year.
The legal problems facing the valley are common among B.C. communities, Shehovac said. He believes the local detachment’s priorities should remain in place for the 2013/14 year.
“Regardless of the size of the community, from Vancouver to Canal Flats, these three are often the main focus of the police,” he said in his report.
Shehovac also stated that the detachment would like to identify one priority in each community that police officers could help improve, in addition to tackling the crimes common throughout the province.