District of Taylor councillors met with RCMP officials earlier this month for an update on crime trends in the community over the last five years.
The district saw 475 calls for service in 2020, up slightly from 468 in 2019, and recorded 115 criminal code offences, up from 99 the year previous.
Though the number of calls have risen from 387 in 2016, the district still only accounts for about 3% of calls the detachment receives a year, according to to Fort St. John RCMP commander Insp. Tony Hanson. Calls across the various crime categories have stayed consistent without any major spikes since 2016, he said.
“The good news with these numbers is that there’s a lot of stability,” Hanson said. “The negative news is they are not declining.”
The district has been considering its options to increase policing in the community after a study found improved public safety and policing among the top priority of residents.
Mayor Rob Fraser says the latest statistics will help inform future discussions with the public before any decisions are made.
“We need to determine what people in Taylor want. We’re hearing they want more, but we have to lay the numbers out in front of them and then the costs, then get their feedback and go from there,” Fraser said.
“We recognize that every single event people have is significant to them and we want to try to deal with it. Everybody wants a safe community," he said.
'Hunting impaired drivers'
The district is currently covered by provincial RCMP that work out of the Fort St. John detachment, with two officers on any given shift covering the North Peace area outside city limits.
Hanson said Taylor sees low numbers of property and violent crime, except for the homicide last year of Sarah Foord, which Hanson acknowledged and called a “tragic” and “isolated incident” tied to domestic violence.
Spousal assaults in the district rose from 5 to 10 last year, according to statistics, while dispute files were down from 11 to 9. There were 8 assaults and 4 disputes recorded in 2016.
“What we tend to see in terms of patterns are couples where we have a number of calls, and couples where there are no calls until something goes bad,” Hanson said. “It can go on that way for years.”
The biggest file increase year-over-year has been impaired driving — there were 38 taken off the road in Taylor last year, up from 19 in 2019. There were 41 files in 2016.
“Our members have been doing more proactive work everywhere with impaired driving,” Hanson said. “We’re hunting impaired drivers.”
Motor vehicle incidents have risen from 17 files in 2016, to 31 last year, mostly of them for damages only. There have been no fatalities over the last two years.
Lock your car doors
There remain few drug files in the community, with one file each for fentanyl trafficking, fentanyl possession, and cocaine possession last year. That's down from five cocaine trafficking files in 2019, and up from zero files overall in 2016.
Common assaults are down year-over-year to 14 files, and down from a high of 23 files in 2017. There were 7 sexual offences last year, up from 5 in 2016, which Hanson said can also be internet-based, including exploitation and the transmission of images.
Though break and enters to both businesses and homes were down in 2020, break-ins to residences have doubled from 3 files in 2016 to 7 files last year.
Vehicle thefts have nearly doubled from 8 files in 2016 to 14 last year, while theft from vehicle files have risen from 8 to 11. Hanson said the trend was concerning, and that they remain crimes of opportunity.
“What we find with most of those, everywhere including in Fort St. John, is people not locking their vehicles, and leaving valuables in their vehicles, or leaving valuables in their vehicles and not locking their vehicles,” he said.
There were 11 calls to Peace Island Park in 2020, the same as in 2019, and down from a high of 20 calls in 2018. A majority of the calls are for non-criminal matters.
RCMP responded to 44 bylaw calls last year, up from 33 calls in 2019, and largely due to noise complaints. Public disturbances have doubled from 6 files in 2016 to 15 files in 2020.
Consultations to come
Taylor doesn’t pay for a municipal police force, but residents do pay into the provincial force, with services provided out of Fort St. John.
The cost for a single police officer is roughly $200,000 per year, including salary, benefits, and a vehicle. At least four officers would be needed if Taylor residents wanted 24-hour coverage, seven days a week, which would add close to $1 million in costs to the district’s budget.
Fraser said the district will be looking at short-term strategies, and hopes for public consultations in late summer or early fall. The work is part of the district’s ongoing core services review, and will be among the priorities for incoming CAO Moira Green.
“Our first step was to get these statistics from the Inspector, then have a closer look at them,” Fraser said. “To look at the long term, are people prepared to put more money in their taxes to increase policing, and how much policing do we need?”
Read the 2020 RCMP statistics for Taylor in full below:
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