The number of files handled by Terrace RCMP plunged temporarily mid-March but has now essentially returned to normal, Inspector Jayson Lucash told Terrace city council.
The Inspector appeared before council May 11 for a routine annual meeting to determine the Terrace RCMP detachment’s priorities for the next year. Council had little to say on the matter, opting to simply carry forward priorities set last year, which include increased visible RCMP presence in the downtown core, more traffic enforcement, working more closely with community agencies on matters of addiction and domestic violence, and respectful workplace training for RCMP members.
But council did have several general questions for the Inspector.
Mayor Carol Leclerc asked if the detachment’s workload was affected by the pandemic. Lucash said the detachment’s workload was unusually light in mid-March, around the time COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic, but the number of files being handled now is just two per cent lower than this time last year.
“Mid-March was down substantially, the amount of volume there, which in a way was a blessing because it gave a lot of the [Terrace RCMP] members an opportunity to catch up on their paperwork,” he said.
And, he added, the number of files forwarded to crown prosecutors, in the expectation of charges being laid, is up six per cent compared to this time last year.
Lucash said the detachment received a number of calls that were COVID-19 “tattle-taling,” where people were, for example, phoning to report their neighbours for not maintaining social distancing.
Councillor Brian Downie asked for an update on enforcement of drug trafficking. Lucash said the detachment’s investigative unit spent much of last year working on top-priority investigations including a homicide.
When they finished the majority of the work on those files, the investigative unit then had time to focus on a drug trafficking investigation which lead to a serious drug bust and arrests at a house on Scott Ave.
The investigative unit continues to pursue drug trafficking, Lucash said, but they may have to shift their focus if another serious event such as a homicide happens.
“They do have several other targets in mind. There are other investigations that are ongoing,” he said. “But sometimes they do get pushed to the side when other events take place.”
Councillor James Cordeiro said there is a small group of repeat offenders who shoplift in town, and asked Lucash what is being done to solve that issue.
“It does seem to me that it is a small group of prolific offenders that are just constantly popping up and shoplifting and causing other issues,” Cordeiro said. “I’m just curious what the strategy is for dealing with these prolific offenders, because there doesn’t seem to be much that has been effective in dealing with them, or any way of deterring them from re-offending.”
Lucash said judges are extremely hesitant, during the pandemic, to send convicted offenders to correctional facilities.
“So we are getting a lot of prolific individuals, who we are targeting, who are getting successful convictions on, but who are being almost immediately returned to the community,” he said. “I am hoping that will change as the pandemic kind of runs its course.”
Nevertheless, Lucash said, the RCMP keeps a close eye on repeat offenders.
“[We] know who those individuals are,” he said. “They’re not afforded any breaks.”