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Crime shifts on the Sunshine Coast

Crime shifts on the Sunshine Coast

In the last three years, “disturbances” have taken over from traffic issues as the most prevalent type of call for local RCMP response. Coast Detachment Staff Sergeant Poppy Hallam identified this shift as the guest speaker at an online Sechelt and District Chamber of Commerce gathering. The Dec. 17 session was entitled “The Business of Policing.”
The term disturbance covers a range of human behaviour, from physical violence to individuals being unlawfully at a location. Hallam noted that those types of calls had increased Coast-wide in recent years. The main impact of the shift is that disturbances require a “two officer” response. Motor vehicle incident call-outs involve one officer. Since 2017, the last year when vehicle-related calls topped local RCMP statistics, call volumes have remained stable at about 9,000 per year.
Another recent shift Hallam reported on was a 20 percent increase in crime in the downtown Sechelt area. Her assessment was that illegal drug activity and a lack of mental health services on the Coast are partially responsible for this change. Hallam noted the impacts in central Sechelt are higher given that people, including those that cause problems, congregate where services, from medical to retail, are located.
When asked about enforcement and sentencing of offenders, Hallam said, “people are being held accountable for their behaviours and are going to court.” She said that her detachment has a strong relationship with the provincial Crown prosecutor. Hallam also emphasized that the RCMP is part of a collaborative approach among Coast medical and social service providers aimed at increasing resources for those struggling with addiction and mental health
The upswing in reports related to “people problems” means that Coast officers are busier than ever. Despite increasing demands, Hallam proudly reported that in an audit conducted in 2020, her detachment had the highest client satisfaction level that the assessment team had seen in 10 years of reviewing detachments. In the audit, over 40 of the detachment’s contacts, from local governments to businesses, were asked for their views on the area’s policing.
Hallam said that the most difficult challenge she faces in her business is resourcing. If more dollars were suddenly available, Hallam said she would use them to hire more officers and staff. She noted that recruiting officers to the Coast can be complicated by the high cost of local housing. As she does not want to see her staff struggle economically, Hallam is honest about these costs when she speaks with officers looking to join her detachment. Hallam also shares the multitude of positives that she believes the Coast offers to people moving here.
Connie Jordison

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