Battlefords RCMP Officer-in-Charge Jason Teniuk was before Battleford town council Monday with the latest update on happenings at the detachment.
A big focus of Teniuk’s report was the gang task force in relation to staffing at the detachment. Teniuk reported that they were “relatively short” in terms of members at the moment, with several positions unfilled and watches filling with overtime.
In spite of those challenges, Teniuk made a crucial decision regarding the detachment’s crime reduction and violence strategy. He told council he was determined not to dismantle the gang task force.
In the past they had done that, taking personnel off the gang task force and onto the watches to keep a whole watch.
“I have determined I am not going to do that and we haven’t done that,” said Teniuk.
The result is decreases noted throughout the report. Teniuk noted the lack of shooting incidents this year. “By this time other years, we’ve had tons.”
He noted over this quarter the gang task force had arrested 41 people on 13 warrants, seized almost $23,100 in cash and all kinds of drugs, including cocaine and meth.
“We’re pulling cocaine off the streets.”
What it means is a change on the watches. While calls for service are about the same, the reduced numbers of members on the watches are spending less time having to deal with the violent crime calls, which Teniuk says slows the watch down.
“It’s different when I have a very low amount of people, and they’re going to a lot of violent calls and they’re in the hospital and they’re trying to get statements, and they’re dealing with a lot of injury and blood and destruction,” said Teniuk.
“We’re not dealing with that right now. It’s a very good position to be in. And that’s directly related to our drug stuff. The drugs and the guns are directly related to our violent crime in the community.”
As far as Teniuk was concerned, “this was a resounding success. I’ve been here long enough that I can actually say that. In 13 years, this is the first time I’ve seen some hope come out of exactly where we’re going.”
Teniuk added when they keep going with the drug and gang work, “that’s going to start reducing the property crime” as well. “Everything else will fall into place with that.”
In general, the combined statistics were relatively in line with what was expected, but Teniuk did point out some areas where numbers stood out.
One area of concern was that break and enters had increased 233 per cent, up from three to 10.
Drug offences were also up 75 per cent, but Teniuk noted that number was a result of greater enforcement.
Speeding offences between town and city are up from 421 to 690, and the reason they focus on that is safety. “People don’t seem to get it.”
Teniuk report some progress with community relations regarding First Nations initiatives, including starting a community consultation with Mosquito First Nation. “We do have our community relations people out in the community doing stuff with our First Nations and getting everybody together, building our bridges, making sure that we’re seen as partners in the community, not as an enforcement agency. And there’s a lot of work to be done on our end for that.”
Teniuk also repeated earlier statements about making the RCMP detachment more efficient.
He said he had a productive meeting with North Battleford council on the issue, and said he is looking at as many streamlining strategies as possible. He suggested looking at ways other agencies can assist, so that the RCMP can be left to do the more serious offences.
“The police have become a catch-all for everything at this point and we can’t keep that up.”