Insp. Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/DUNCAN RCMP detachment, said calls for service have been down during the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

Insp. Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/DUNCAN RCMP detachment, said calls for service have been down during the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP report calls for service down due to pandemic

Sex offences, arsons and drug crimes climb

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP is reporting significantly less calls for service since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In his quarterly report to the City of Duncan’s council, Insp. Chris Bear, head of the detachment, said that there has been about a 12 per cent decrease in calls for service since 2020 began.

He said the detachment received 20,869 calls for service so far this year, down from 23,679 over the same period in 2019.

“We have seen significant decreases in most areas, however we see some slight increases,” Bear said.

“Sex offences are up to 22 reports from 18, arsons are up to eight from six. Drug possession, impaired operation and 24-hour suspensions are up. This can be attributed to higher proactive officer time, increased traffic enforcement and check stops, and the regular patrols and enforcement for drug usage along the identified safety corridor.”

Bear said that after all of the changes brought on by the pandemic, the RCMP began to see some normalcy restored to operations and re-opening of businesses during the third quarter, from July through August.

“The summer typically sees an increase of calls for service, however given the pandemic, a number of large outdoor events, like music festivals, that typically happen did not occur, thus having less of a draw on policing resources,” he said.

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“The community continued with the established campsites and hotel rooms for many of the Valley’s less fortunate. This has been realized as a much-needed service, which has had a positive outcome for both clients and community. These sites did not generate any notable increase in calls for service and, overall, policed themselves.”

Bear said that in March, the Warmland Community Policing program for the area was put on hold as a result of the pandemic.

“The program is also going through some restructuring at this time and will, hopefully, be up and running in the near future,” he said.

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Bear said that in September, the detachment teamed up with Shawnigan Lake RCMP, Lake Cowichan RCMP, Traffic Services, BC Parks, BC Conservation Service and the Cowichan Valley Regional District to deter unsanctioned campouts and parties in the Valley.

“Typically, the parties are large in size with numerous underage youth consuming drugs and alcohol resulting in increased calls for service and higher risk of impaired driving, crimes against persons and health and welfare of the individuals,” he said.

“An awareness and prevention campaign took place with School District 79 and students and families. Patrols and enforcement were conducted and, as a result of the combined messaging and patrols, this was a non-event compared to years past.”

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