Oceanside RCMP received 6,881 calls in the first half of 2021, a 13 per cent increase from last year, when 6,112 calls came in.
Sgt. Stephen Rose said, in his report to Parksville council’s July 19 meeting, that road safety was identified by elected officials and community stakeholders as the top concern. Between April 1 and June 30, RCMP pulled over five impaired drivers and issued 14 immediate roadside prohibitions.
“They’ve attended 119 crashes in the jurisdiction, which is a fairly high number. Two of those were fatals,” said Rose.
RCMP are currently monitoring 11 prolific offenders — people heavily engaged in property crime and bound by court order conditions, he said. That number is down slightly from the same time last year when police monitored 14 prolific offenders. Rose said RCMP check in with those individuals every second day.
He said when it comes to property crime, such as break and enters, theft of vehicles, theft from vehicles and general mischief, Oceanside RCMP tend to deal with the same individuals repeatedly.
“Where possible we communicate with the prosecutor and the provincial crown’s office and let know this is a repeat offender and provide a very detailed bail page that identifies the substantive offences that the person has caused and committed in the jurisdiction to try to highlight that this is someone that needs extra attention,” Rose said.
Coun. Doug O’Brien said he has been told by residents and tourists that they do not feel comfortable walking around Parksville after dark, particularly downtown.
“There’s another element that comes out at night, maybe because under the cover of darkness they feel safer,” he said. O’Brien added some tourists staying in a trailer park on the waterfront told him they did not feel safe heading downtown to walk their dog in the evening.
He asked if police bike patrols could help deal with the situation. Rose said the detachment does not have the personnel available to conduct proactive bike patrols because its officers are busy responding to calls.
“Even identifying officers willing to come in and work overtime for that sole purpose is presenting a challenge, as there’s ongoing needs for officers to provide overtime and to work overtime simply to meet our minimum staffing level internally,” Rose said.
Oceanside RCMP are often asked why the police are not on the road patrolling because there are always numerous police vehicles parked outside the detachment. Rose said this is because the vehicle fleet is larger than the number of officers typically on shift.
“The annual call volume is increasing in this municipality. We haven’t increased substantially the number of police officers in this municipality or in the area that we police in recent years,” he said.