A report released this morning from Statistics Canada pegs Kelowna as having the highest crime rate in the country for 2012.
The Police-Reported Crime Statistics names the Kelowna Census Metropolitan Area as having the highest crime rate in the country and further states that the Crime Severity Index for the area—Kelowna, Lake Country and West Kelowna—increased by approximately six per cent the same year, primarily due to property offences. Persons offences, such as assaults, are decreasing.
“It’s my goal that Greater Kelowna is never again mentioned in a Stats Canada report on crime unless Kelowna is being recognized for significant improvements that have been made,” said Insp. Nick Romanchuk, who will assume the role of superintendent of police in Kelowna shortly.
Romanchuk made himself available to the media, though he has yet to even move to Kelowna, as he realized it was a rating that requires immediate response.
“I believe in very aggressive, targeted enforcement targeted at a very small number of prolific offenders who are responsible for the vast majority of crime within any community,” he said, suggesting this was the strategy he used when in charge of the Trail detachment.
Working in the small community, he managed to lead his officers to reduce break-and-enter theft from 100 break-ins annually to 30 to 40 by narrowing the scope to isolate prolific offenders; although, this will only be the start of his plans.
Romanchuk will be looking to build strategic partnerships, both within the law enforcement community and the greater social service sector, in his new hometown saying he understands crime to a wider societal problem that law enforcement alone cannot fix.
He also hinted a change in some of the detachments practices is in the wind, saying he wants to look critically at how the workload is addressed. He did not get into details.
“We have to consider whether the work that we’re doing now is adding value to make our communities safer and, if it’s not, we have to decide whether we need to continue doing it,” he said.
Romanchuk indicated he is nonetheless pleased with the work he has seen officers in Kelowna handling and with the city’s investment in policing.
The City of Kelowna added 12 new officers this year and will have added 22 by 2015.
City Manager Ron Mattiussi was on hand and said the municipality’s corporate end saw the rising crime stats in 2012 and responded by backing the police requests for more officers before council.
In a familiar mantra for those who have seen these high crime rating results before, Mattiussi suggested a large portion of the problems stem from the influx of tourists who hit the valley in the summer.
With 1.5 to 2 million more people in the Okanagan over summer, police resources are stretched very thin no matter how many more officers are added, he pointed out.
Both the new superintendent and the city manager suggested the crime statistics for 2013 are already headed in a better direction.
Results from Thursday’s report suggest the numbers for 2012 looked like this:
-property crime increased by 13.5 per cent
-break and enters increased by 7.2 per cent
-theft of motor vehicles increased by 2.6 per cent
-thefts from motor vehicles increased by 37.6 per cent
-frauds increased by 19 per cent
-theft of bicycles increased by 73 per cent
-drug offences increased by three per cent
-persons offences decreased by approximately 2.5 per cent