Grand Forks Mounties spent a “considerable amount of time” dealing with mental health, addiction and homelessness this summer, according to Sgt. Darryl Peppler. The detachment meanwhile responded to more calls this summer than last year, while the city and Christina Lake areas saw around the same amount of crime.
In particular, Peppler said he and his officers typically spend a lot of time checking in with the city’s homeless and drug-addicted population. Asked why this was being done by police, he highlighted a lack of resources for people who might otherwise get into recovery.
Noting that Grand Forks has a crack team of mental health support workers, Peppler said, “There’s a lot of barriers to drug and alcohol treatment. I’ve spoken to many people who say it’s easier for them to raise $50 to $200 for drugs every day than it is to get treatment.”
For example, Peppler said beds that become available at a treatment centre in Penticton might be of little use to addicts in Grand Forks who have no way of getting from a to b. Locally, officers who bring unstable people to hospital for psychiatric evaluations can face wait times of between two to three hours, he added.
In the meantime, the detachment has fielded more calls. There were 577 calls across Grand Forks between July and the end of August, a roughly 8.5 per cent increase over the same period in 2020. At the same time, Mounties went out to 30 per cent fewer calls in Christina Lake, where officers attended 142 calls in 2021 compared to 205 in 2020, according to Peppler’s latest numbers.
Grand Forks Mounties were busier in the last two months partly because their jurisdiction saw a considerable influx of tourists, many of whom came from out of province, Peppler said. On the other hand, the drop in responses in Christina Lake partly reflects a gap in seasonal policing.
Where the detachment would normally have had an extra officer to work weekend and holiday shifts, Peppler said that officer was deployed to other communities affected by this summer’s wildfires.
This summer’s crime statistics were generally consistent with what the detachment would expect to see going into what is always a peak season, he continued.
Looking at all detachment files in July and August in terms of frequency, his numbers show the following breakdown:
- Calls regarding suspicious people or vehicles: 82
- Well-being checks: 40
- False alarms: 29
- False 911 calls: 15
- Responses to a disturbance: 15
- Assaults: 11
- Theft under $5,000: Eight
- Theft from a Motor Vehicle: Six
- Theft of a bike: Four
- Residential break and enters: Five
- Calls to insecure premises (including vacant homes): 5
- Responses to Missing Persons: Four
There were no patterns to any of these statistics. Rather, Peppler said this summer’s crimes occurred in random places, at random times. As with any other detachment, Peppler said, “There’s a handful of people that we come into contact with on a regular basis. At the end of the day, that will take a lot of resources from multiple service agencies,” he said.
In terms of violent crime, Peppler said the 11 recorded assaults spanned everything from “two friends fighting” to more serious cases like domestic assaults.
“One domestic assault is one too many,” he stressed.
Mounties found all four people reported missing to RCMP, including a child who fell asleep under a staircase in a home daycare and a man whose car battery died on a camping trip.