RCMP ‘exceptionally busy’: North Cowichan/Duncan chief

Visibility is going to be a priority for the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP again this summer, according to Inspector Ray Carfantan.

It’s an initiative that’s popular with the general public, he said.

In addition, Speed Watch volunteers "have really stepped up their game," he told North Cowichan council in his latest report.

"We’ve seen a two-thirds drop in the number of vehicles that are driving over 10 km over the speed limit," he said.

In addition, there is a push coming all the way through the system as chiefs of police to increase traffic safety in school zones.

Local Mounties have been "exceptionally busy" during the past few months, though, which has made it hard for officers to find the time to walk through communities, he said.

One of the aspects of police work that takes time and resources is looking for missing persons.

"We have had 400-500 missing persons reported this year," Carfantan said.

Those calls "eat up a lot of time," he told councillors.

"Someone calls up and says: ‘My son’s missing!’ There seems to be a public perception out there; parents don’t think enough is being done."

Part of the problem with the public’s view of these cases is that "a lot of times people see things on TV," he said.

Contrary to what might be thought, a lot of missing persons are found at home.

"The first thing we do is search the house. We do find a large number of people hiding under their beds," Carfantan said.

Asked about the recent situation at Drinkwater Elementary School, where RCMP officers responded in force to a bomb threat, he said "we were happy with the way everyone responded there."

He also told councillors that a later situation that saw the apprehension of a dangerous man near Parkside Academy’s Somenos School site saw the population of that daycare evacuated smoothly to the North Cowichan council chambers.

The problem with finding the perpetrator of such a hoax is that "the call we got was a digitized text," he said, explaining that similar calls went to Langley and Kamloops "calling the police about a situation that didn’t exist. It was a tremendous draw on resources. The impact is broad in those cases. Ambulances were called out and the hospital was on standby," he said.