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RCMP calls for service up in North Battleford

But serious crimes are down, as Gang Task Force makes impact
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"Our homicides during this quarter were zero; we had four last year.” - S/Sgt. Jason Teniuk

NORTH BATTLEFORD - Calls for service in 2021 are up in North Battleford, according to the latest statistics provided by Battlefords detachment of the RCMP.

But that may not be a cause for alarm, based on the presentation made by Battlefords Detachment Officer-in-Charge Jason Teniuk to North Battleford,s council meeting on Tuesday night.

According to that statistical report presented to council, there were 7,872 calls for service from January to July, 2021, up from 7,106 for the same period in 2020. It was also the highest total of calls for service in the city in the past five years.

Calls for the second quarter April to June were also up from a year ago, up from 3,836 to 4,549. For the combined North Battleford and rural area, calls had increased for the quarter from 6,850 to 7,766.

Despite that increase, Staff-Sgt.Teniuk noted that a lot of the calls were less serious than what they had seen in past years.

“The ferociousness or the veracity of the crimes have gone down, which is a good thing,” said Teniuk. “Our calls for service are going up, but those calls for service are easily dealt with. That gives my officers more time to concentrate on more serious crimes and put a lot more effort into things that are going on that deserve that effort.”

Teniuk noted the force is still in a bit of a staffing crunch with a number of maternity and paternity leaves and people out sick. He also noted August has so far been extremely busy - “busier than I can remember. I have not had a day off in August yet.”

Teniuk also spoke of something he had addressed at a Town of Battleford council meeting in July - the decision he had made not to disband the Gang Task Force and put those officers on the watch during staffing crunches. Instead, during this latest staff shortage the force has been running the watch at less than usual while keeping the Gang Task Force running.

As a result, Teniuk was able to point to some successes. This week, he told council, the Gang Task Force took five kilos of cocaine off the street during a vehicle stop they were directly involved in. That amounted to $250,000 worth of cocaine, but once it gets cut it would be between $500,000-$800,000 in street value.

Teniuk also told council that the word he is getting back is that they are taking the drugs off the streets.

“Drugs are hard to come by in the city right now, because these guys are doing an extremely effective job.”

That spoke to why the veracity of the calls had gone down, he said. “We have not had drive-by shootings like we’ve had in the past, we have not had the aggravated assaults. Our homicides during this quarter were zero; we had four last year.”

He also said it was a “fight you can’t stop - you’ve just got to keep going and going.”

The statistics presented Tuesday night were much more detailed than in past RCMP reports. Detailed numbers were provided not only for offence categories for the year through June, but for the specific offences themselves going back to 2017 for the same period.

According to that report, there were 603 persons offences so far through June, for a five-year reduction of seven per cent. Assaults made up the biggest number at 353, with 180 harassment/uttering threats and 23 sexual assaults. There were no homicides recorded so far in 2021 compared to five for the same period in 2020.

Property offences were up 13 per cent over that five-year time frame to 1,756, though break and enters and thefts were both down four percent for that same time. But during the second quarter of 2021 from April to June, both break and enters and thefts had seen increases from a year earlier, by 31 and 87 percent respectively.

In particular thefts of motor vehicles had risen from 36 to 60 during quarter two, and up 22 per cent for the five-year period to 99 in the first six months of 2021.

Teniuk also noted that there was a jump of 28 per cent in motor vehicle thefts between the city and the rural area as well.

Teniuk acknowledged this statistic was a particular concern. He noted the force had done a lot of work trying to get people to remove their keys from their vehicles, and also noted that stolen vehicles are often used to commit other crimes.

“We’re finding one crime occurs and several crimes occur after that,” said Teniuk.

Other Criminal Code offences were up 14 per cent for the five-year period, to 1,203. Criminal code traffic offences are down 12 percent to 160 and provincial traffic offences up 64 percent to 1,129. Drug offences are up 23 percent to 74.

As for the rest of Teniuk’s report to council, he spoke extensively about working with the city’s Community Safety Officers. He said they were trying to get the CSOs involved and they were making an impact.

A lot of calls were being transferred to them, and the CSOs were also now delivering subpoenas as well, helping free up the RCMP officers in their own work. Teniuk expressed his desire to see even more collaboration with the CSOs in the future.

“I want to move to a true tiered policing model,” said Teniuk.

Teniuk also addressed concerns expressed from the public about how they were hesitant to call because of how busy the RCMP is. Instead, he encouraged people to call the RCMP if something is going on, no matter how small it is, or to call the CSOs.

“Between us, we’ll sort out who should have it.”