Crime is on the rise in downtown Kelowna, according to the city’s top cop.
RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle will tell city council Monday property crime in the downtown area jumped to 23 per cent between July and September, with 238 incidents reported. Offences against people in the areas more than doubled to 63 during the same time period.
While Mundle’s report describes the person offence total as still “relatively low,” it says downtown-specific crime overall is up across the board.
To combat the rise in crime downtown, Mundle says resources are being redeployed in addition to proactive policing efforts already in place.
“This includes the creation of a rotating unit to target street level property crime during the winter months. Supplemental downtown foot patrols this fall have been increased to include three additional afternoons. Resources are being increased to include four new Members allocated in the 2018 budget cycle,” says the report.
It says some of the other proactive initiatives during the past quarter also focused on bicycle theft, which, along with theft from vehicles, is described as a major driver of property crime in the city.
Bicycle theft spiked by 66 per cent, with 339 bikes reported stolen across the city between July and September. Mundle says thefts from vehicle rose by five percent, a figure he describes as also relatively low.
The RCMP is also targeting drug crime downtown, saying its Downtown Drug Project continues on its track record of proactively targeting drug activity in the area. From May to October, the project resulted in 112 drug charges against 73 people.
Meanwhile, police resources are also being increased to include four new officers approved in this year’s city budget.
Other initiatives Mundle will talk about Monday include the Police and Crisis Team (PACT), a partnership between Interior Health and the RCMP, which sees an health care worker ride with a police officer and help people apprehended receive the supports they need.
The team received a total of 417 referrals from June to September, generating 318 police files. PACT members brought individuals to the hospital 22 times to receive medical attention, and successfully diverted 54 individuals from the hospital to other support services, helping reduce traffic to the emergency room.
As a next step in collaboration with community organizations, including Interior Health, the local school district, BC Housing, Probation Canada and the Ministry of Children and Family Development, a HUB model for community safety is also being coordinated for implementation in 2019.
HUB is described as providing immediate, co-ordinated and integrated response through the mobilization of resources to address situations facing individuals with acutely elevated risk factors as recognized across a range of service providers.
“Weekly meetings will see improved inter-agency communication and help triage individuals presenting high risk of crisis in the community,” says the report. “The goal is to connect them immediately with support services so they can access the help they need.”
A stakeholders awareness session is planned for late January with training in late February, and subsequently implementation.
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