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Estevan police call volumes were down 28 per cent in 2022

Charges under the Criminal Code were up in 2022.
Estevan Police Chief Rich Lowen
Estevan Police Chief Rich Lowen

ESTEVAN - The Estevan Police Service experienced a significant decline in its calls for service in 2022, but the number of Criminal Code violations grew.

The figures, released at the Jan. 18 meeting of the Estevan board of police commissioners, showed that the EPS had 6,568 calls for service in 2022, down 28.7 per cent from the 9,218 infractions they dealt with in 2021.

The total number of calls for service was also down 18.4 per cent from the five-year average of 8,054, which Police Chief Richard Lowen views as good news.

“It’s more accurate to see that percentage change when you’re looking at larger numbers like that as opposed to smaller numbers,” said Lowen. “When we can look at our calls for service, that’s a good indication that we’re on a good trend here.”

As for why calls for service are down from both 2021 and the five-year average, he said part of it is due to the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions. 

The crime numbers, though, show that the EPS issued 631 charges under the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, compared to 585 issued in 2021 and the five-year average of 622

Crimes against the person were at 146, up eight per cent from the 135 they had in 2021. They had 112 assaults, up from 88 the previous year.

When he reviewed them from month to month, Lowen said there was often an addiction factor, whether it be to drugs or alcohol. It’s a common theme throughout all of the offences they have, but particularly with assaults.

“What I want to do this year is to look to see if we can have a more in-depth analysis into both the reasons behind the crimes, where they’re located and how we can focus our enforcement in our partnerships with our outside agencies to help have an impact,” said Lowen.

There were also 22 sexual crimes, down from 38 the year before; 10 assaults causing bodily harm, up two from 2021; and two robberies, compared to none in 2021.

Crimes against property jumped 22 per cent from 287 in 2021 to 351 last year. Included in the total were 162 thefts over $5,000 (compared to 123 in 2021); 122 mischief or wilful damage complaints (113 in 2021); five thefts over $5,000 (up from four); 18 thefts of a motor vehicle (up from 14); and 43 break and enters (versus 30 in 2021). Thirty-one break-and-enters were residential, eight were businesses and four were listed as other. There was one arson in 2022, down from three the previous year.

Thirty-three charges were laid under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the same number as 2021. Last year saw 24 charges for trafficking, up from 11 the previous year, and nine for possession, down from 20 in 2021. There were no charges for production, compared to two in 2021.

The one category that saw a decrease was Criminal Code traffic violations, which declined 22 per cent from 130 to 101. Last year there were 82 impaired/exceed-related offences, 14 for impaired by drug and five for dangerous driving/other. The previous year had 89, 28 and 13 charges, respectively.

Lowen was pleased to see a drop in impaired driving in the community, as other communities have not seen a similar decline.

“We’ve continued with the enforcement strategies and the education part, and I’m hoping that education part continues to have an influence on how people drive,” said Lowen.

The five-year averages were 126 for crimes against the person, 321 for crimes against property, 126 for Criminal Code traffic violations and 43 for Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Lowen noted there hasn’t been a change in the way in which incidents are reported since he started. He couldn’t comment whether anything was done differently five years ago, but the information from the members is they’re doing the same for recording.

In the upcoming year, the EPS will focus on its business plan, released last fall, with greater emphasis on how it gets numbers out to the community so they can start to see results of the work of the members.

Quarterly reports will be released to the community so they can see the EPS’s work. They will include statistics, with everything from crime reporting and five-year averages, to the number of compliance checks and traffic enforcement tickets, to community involvement.

The EPS will also continue with its illicit drug strategy.

“It’s concerning when we start seeing things like fentanyl creeping into the community, but it’s all across Saskatchewan. It’s consistent,” said Lowen.

The EPS is also going to focus on crimes like theft under $5,000. People were coming into the community to commit thefts and then leaving. Lowen pointed to people from Regina stealing metals and catalytic converters.

“We did specific targeted enforcement and we were able to arrest people for that,” said Lowen.

Year-end numbers for the city’s bylaw enforcement were also released at last week’s police board meeting. According to Special Const. Ana Volmer, there were 1,676 occurrences last year, up 258 from the 1,418 handled in 2021.

Bylaw enforcement had 804 unkempt property inspections, 245 parking violations, 159 animal calls, 122 other bylaw calls, 95 taxi inspections, 81 parking complaints and 67 snow removal notices to account for the bulk of the calls.

Lowen noted that Volmer has done a good job in terms of keeping up with the activity since becoming the bylaw enforcement officer. She has set out a plan for herself in which she would select an area and get to all of the properties in a day. 

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