Crime in Kelowna is on a general downward trend, according to RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle.
During his quarterly report to city council, possibly his last before his transfer, Kelowna’s top cop said the detachment had a busy start to 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were put into place.
“We started off quite busy compared to the previous two years. Then what we’ve seen in March is a bit of stabilization, then flattening out where we’re trending lower than previous years,” Mundle said.
“This is something we’ll follow throughout the summer as restrictions lift. With all the events that have been cancelled and reduction in tourism, the flatline may stay stable and we may have equal calls for service or lower by the end of the year.”
Property crimes have seen a downward trend as well, with significant decreases since March. Mundle said this could be the result of targeted enforcement. In a three-year comparison, Mundle said motor vehicle theft, shoplifting, mischief and vandalism have all been down. Theft, traffic incidences, and unwanted person disturbances also decreased, which Mundle said maybe because more people stayed home as the COVID-19 pandemic peaked.
But because more people were staying home, calls for suspicious persons and wellness checks were slightly up.
Councillor Loyal Wooldridge asked about resources available to those the police do wellness checks on.
“We’ve heard a lot about defunding the police through the Black Lives Matter movement we’ve seen, and increasing resources and mental health services instead,” he said.
Mundle said when an officer attends a wellness check they do not come equipped with resources for those who may be vulnerable.
“Social work services and partnerships are important, but I don’t think the answer is defunding or decreasing the size of the detachment, but to increase services to assist the vulnerable population and have that attached to the police,” Mundle said.
Wooldridge also asked if the detachment has received directives from Ottawa about systemic racism and if there will be changes made within the RCMP.
“I haven’t received anything from Ottawa; there will be work to do in all kinds of organizations throughout the country, but it’s unfair to target law enforcement alone,” Mundle said.
“But there is definitely room for diversity.”
With respect to the high-profile arrest in early June, which was caught on camera, Mundle said the investigation is still ongoing. Once the internal investigation is complete, he said an RCMP investigator, separate from the Kelowna detachment, will review the results, which will be forwarded to an external agency to make sure the results are impartial.
“Crown counsel will determine if charges are warranted for the incident,” Mundle said.
However, Kelowna resident Tyler Russell recently filed a notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court, outlining six legal actions against the Attorney General of Canada, the B.C. Minister of Justice, and Const. Siggy Pietrzak, the officer involved in the arrest.