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Humboldt crime stats up slightly

Prisoners are up. Traffic charges are way up. And while hit and runs are down a little, they are still a problem.

Prisoners are up. Traffic charges are way up. And while hit and runs are down a little, they are still a problem.
Overall, crime statistics went up in 2011 in both the City of Humboldt and the surrounding area, according to data presented by the Humboldt RCMP detachment to the Humboldt Journal last week.
In the city of Humboldt, the RCMP had a total of 2,437 reported incidents (up about 10 per cent from 2,201 in 2010).
In the rural area around Humboldt, total reported incidents went from 1,409 in 2010 to 1,744 in 2011. That number includes a huge increase in the number of traffic tickets issued in the rural area in 2011, noted Cpl. Randy Wittig of the Humboldt RCMP.
The number of prisoners being held at the Humboldt detachment is way up, from 124 in 2010 to 157 in 2011.
That's a big increase from 10 years ago, when just 56 prisoners were held in a 12-month period.
The explanation for this is simple - more people are being arrested and lodged at the detachment than ever before.
The 157 includes those in cells at the detachment for just a few hours, overnight, or those on remand awaiting court appearances before being transported back to Saskatoon, where they are held in custody.
Having this number of prisoners in their two cells at the detachment is becoming an issue, Wittig noted.
"It's going to be a problem if that number keeps increasing.... We'll outgrow our cells pretty fast."
While Humboldt's numbers are up a bit, when compared to other communities of a similar size, this is still considered a very peaceful place.
For instance, in The Pas, Manitoba, a city of 5,000 -roughly the same size as Humboldt - there were 11,000 reported incidents in 2011, including 187 people reported missing, 73 break and enters, and 460 mischiefs, all within the city limits, as well as 281 assaults, two murders, 35 sexual assaults, 38 possession of drug charges and 11 trafficking in drugs charges.
They also house about 3,000 prisoners per year at their police complex.
The Pas, Wittig said, is the busiest municipal RCMP detachment in Manitoba.
That's much different than the numbers for Humboldt, found below.
In Humboldt in 2012, the focus of the RCMP will remain much the same - traffic enforcement, including cracking down on impaired drivers, reducing property crime by repeat offenders, working with youth by doing community police work, and continuing with investigations into the drug trade.
"These are always standard," Wittig said. "There will always be a focus on those."
City of Humboldt stats
In the City of Humboldt, hit and runs are about the same - there were 45 in 2010 and 47 in 2011. However, they remain an issue, Wittig noted.
"People are playing bump and run," he said.
Most of the people who come in to report a hit and run to their vehicle don't know when it happened or where. Some, police suspect, involve drivers hitting things themselves and either not realizing it, or reporting it as a hit and run to avoid points on their licence when they get the damage repaired. RCMP investigate all of them.
"A lot blame the parking lots," Wittig said.
Traffic charges are up by 70, from 455 in 2010 to 525 in 2011. This includes all traffic tickets, from failing to stop at the scene of an accident to driving with undue care and attention, to failing to wear a seatbelt and speeding.
Those numbers are up because of increased RCMP enforcement, Witting noted, and they include a traffic blitz conducted last summer in Humboldt.
Impaired driving charges dropped a little, from 31 to 28, as did the number of traffic collisions, from 75 to 65, but the number of people arrested for breaching a court order was way up, from 34 in 2010 to 52 in 2011.
"A lot of that is proactive enforcement of curfews... and drinking conditions," said Wittig. Officers are conducting curfew checks on those who are bound by that condition for their release from jail, and are checking the bars for those who are not to consume alcohol.
"That's a big push," Wittig noted.
Drug trafficking charges went from zero in 2010 to three laid in 2011 - three people were charged with possession of marijuana for the purposes of trafficking after the search of an Englefeld bar and a private Englefeld residence on September 6.
Sexual assaults took a jump in 2011 - six were reported in 2010, compared to nine in 2011.
"One is too many," Wittig commented.
There was one attempted murder charge laid in 2011 - up from zero in 2010.
There was a big drop in the number of assaults overall in the city, however. Forty-three were reported in 2010, resulting in 27 charges, but in 2011, just 19 were reported, and 10 went to charges.
"I can't pin that on anything," Wittig noted, as these reports are made by people who come to the RCMP to issue a complaint.
But it's a big drop - more than 50 per cent.
Forty-three in a community like Humboldt is pretty high, Wittig admitted, noting that those assaults include everything from domestic assaults to bar fights.
Reports of thefts of items worth under $5,000 were way down this year, too - 75 were reported in 2010, and just 42 in 2011.
This category includes the theft of bicycles, shoplifting, and thefts of vehicles worth under $5,000. In 2010, of the 75 reports, 10 were for vehicles; in 2011, just two of the 42 were vehicles. The theft of bikes, meanwhile, went from 18 to 11.
Thefts of items worth over $5,000 were also down from 17 in 2010 to nine in 2011. Of the 17 in 2010, 15 were vehicle thefts; and of the nine in 2011, eight were vehicles.
The number of mischief complaints was also down in 2011, from 84 in 2010 to 68 in 2011.
This category includes mostly minor vandalism that occurs around the city, Wittig said.
Frauds went from six in 2010 to 12 in 2011.
"I've noticed more bad cheques being turned in," Wittig said.
Writing a cheque for an amount you know you do not have in the bank is considered a false pretence, which is a section under fraud, he explained.
Break and enters were fairly consistent, going from 19 to 20. There was no rash of break and enters this year, as there have been in the past, Wittig agreed - the break-ins occurred sporadically, and mostly occurred in businesses. Twelve of the break-ins were to businesses, while six were to residences.
Arson investigations were consistent, with three in 2010 and two in 2011. Those two include two vehicle fires which occurred late in the fall.
Criminal record checks were way up in 2011, from 555 to 688.
"There was a big hit at the end of the year with the RBC Cup volunteers," Wittig explained - that accounted for about 100 of the checks.
False alarms went up, as well, from 160 to 176.
There are more alarm systems in homes, which accounts for some of that increase, Wittig agreed.
Of the alarms they responded to in 2011, just one was legitimate, Wittig noted.
False alarms take up a lot of police time, and are constantly coming in, he noted, even though the city passed a bylaw last year that states after three false alarms, property owners will get a bill for the response.
Rural statistics
Hit and runs in the rural area of the Humboldt detachment were down from 15 in 2010 to 12 in 2011.
Traffic collisions were up in the rural area - there were 93 in 2010 and 114 in 2011.
This covers all the highway collisions in the area, Wittig noted - everything from people hitting deer to head-on collisions between two vehicles.
The number of traffic offences noted was up from 522 tickets issued to 847.
That, Wittig said, it because of more enforcement on area highways.
Impaired driving charges dropped from 34 to 28, but charges of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle were up from three to eight. That eight includes four charges of failing to stop for police, Wittig said, which is a Canadian Criminal Code offence that can result in a large fine, licence suspension, and impounding of the vehicle.
The number of people charged with breach of probation went down a little from 14 to 12, and offensive weapons charges, including careless use of a firearm, or unauthorized possession of a firearm went way down, from seven in 2010 to one in 2011.
Drug trafficking charges went from one of possession for the purpose of trafficking in 2010 to one plain drug trafficking charge in 2011.
Charges of drug possession stayed the same at 11, while the number of assaults dropped from 29 to 27.
Thefts of items worth under $5,000 decreased dramatically from 42 (including 12 vehicles) in 2010 to 17 (including two vehicles) in 2011.
Thefts of items worth over $5,000 stayed exactly the same at 11, though one fewer car - dropping from seven to six - was among those thefts.
Mischief reports dropped from 64 to 48, as well.
"It's nice to see those go down," Wittig said.
But frauds went up from three to 11, and break and enters from 21 to 26, the bulk (15 in total) to businesses.
False alarms had a big jump, from 39 in 2010 to 65 in 2011.

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