Inspector Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, reports to council. (Robert Barron/Citizen file)

Inspector Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, reports to council. (Robert Barron/Citizen file)

Drugs top list of North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP priorities

“Hot Spot” enforcement stepped up as North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP sees drug-related offences climb

A counterfeit money investigation on Westholme Road in July resulted in search warrants executed at a residence and vehicle in relation to nine passing counterfeit money investigations. Three people were arrested and charged for counterfeit related offences.

In September 2018 a search warrant was executed on Trunk Road and more than $5,000 in cash and quantities of meth and fentanyl were seized as well as stolen property stemming from recent thefts from vehicles was recovered. That residence has since been declared a nuisance property.

Fentanyl and cash were also seized from a unit in the Super 8 Motel in October. One person has been charged.

Those were some of the drug files noted by Inspector Chris Bear, officer in charge, Duncan/North Cowichan RCMP Detachment, in his quarterly update to the City of Duncan’s new mayor and council.

An increase in drug projects and search warrants, an increase in confidential informants and an increase in officer training seminars for drug investigations are all now detachment focuses.

“Substance abuse policing has been made a priority by all members of the detachment given its severity to affect all types of criminal activity,” Bear said, adding that “hot spot” patrols are on the rise in the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP’s service area.

That’s where areas that have been identified by the detachment as being at a high risk for criminal activity, are patrolled more often.

“Officers are urged to patrol, interact, investigate and address issues in order to stop the illegal behaviour from occurring,” Bear explained.

It’s a team effort, however.

“The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Detachment continues to work closely with Island Health and the Community Action Team regarding the community’s social and economic issues,” Bear said. “The RCMP urge the community to report criminal activity and never to assume that others have reported it.”

Drug enforcement isn’t the only item on the RCMP’s action plan for the area, however.

“The annual performance plan guides us on how we do pro-active work at the detachment,” Bear said. “Priorities are to build and maintain positive relations within the RCMP and our partners, police community relations and the visibility of police.”

But that’s not all.

Officers also aim to reduce crimes against persons (violence, domestic violence and crimes against vulnerable persons), to enhance road safety, to build and maintain positive relations with Aboriginal communities, to reduce property crimes and contribute to employee wellness.

Bear said there were 6,236 calls for service to the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment in the third quarter of 2018 compared to 5,536 the same quarter the previous year. Roughly 21 per cent of calls came from the City of Duncan.

“We’re showing an increase of 9.6 per cent. We’ve seen that we’ve had a busy summer again compared to last year and the stats keep going up,” Bear said. “Assaults, property crime, theft from vehicles are up from past quarters.”

One significant incident was on July 19, “and a couple other dates as well” where they’ve seen numerous tires being slashed in the Sherman Road area.

Bear said those numbers can be deceiving.

One slashing will be one occurrence “so if we get 20 tires slashed for 20 vehicles, that’s 20 files,” he explained. “One person can make the stats jump up exponentially.”

As for missing persons files, police have been working with group homes to try to lower those numbers as well.

“Missing persons files we get a lot. We can compare them almost as high as Nanaimo’s, not as bad but substantial.”

There were 217 through August last year while this year there were only 199 through the first three quarters of the year.

“We’re seeing a little bit of movement afoot there. Missing persons files are probably the worst files for us because we never know if they’re going to be actually homicide, or is it just an overdue youth from a group home? They’re difficult for us.”

Bear noted officers average less than five minutes an hour on proactive policing per 12-hour shift.

Pro-active policing is the time they are out on the roads looking for crime, being visible, and not responding to calls.

“We’re looking to bump that up substantially because it’s not enough time there for our officers to go out there and make a difference in our community,” Bear said.

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