Drug offences up 81% in Vernon

RCMP says number shows policing is working

Drug offences are up 81 per cent in Vernon compared to this time last year, according to a third-quarter report from the RCMP, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“You see it as an increase, but it shows me my members are working,” said Vernon North Okanagan Supt. Shawna Baher, during a council meeting on Nov. 12.

“Those are files that show we are proactive.”

Part of that 81 per cent increase, or 154 drug offence files, includes two search warrants executed under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act on a “problem premise” downtown. On July 9, police found 20 people inside the residence and a significant quantity of drugs and currency. A secondary search warrant was executed on a vehicle finding more drugs and drug trafficking paraphernalia.

A 30-year-old woman was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.

The next month, on Aug. 21, the task force returned to the residence where 11 people were found inside with drugs, currency and stolen property. Bylaw joined the task force and deemed the residence to be uninhabitable. The investigation, in this case, is ongoing, the RCMP report reads.

READ MORE: Drugs, cash and 11 people apprehended at Vernon house

READ MORE: Police find drugs, 20 people at Vernon problem premise

According to the report, there were 154 drug offence files in the last quarter compared to only 85 drug offences last year.

Property crimes have also increased, Baher said.

Theft under $5,000 jumped 61.9 per cent, residential break and enters increased by 62.5 per cent and vehicle thefts increased by 9.76 per cent. Thefts from vehicles, however, remained essentially flat with a total of 197 incidents — two more incidents than the year prior.

Unlike drug offences, Baher said the rise in property crime offences is not something she’s happy with, however since they added more police resources to problematic areas she said they’ve notice a change.

Over 11 days in October, four additional officers were added to the Downtown Enforcement Unit (DEU) to monitor issues such as panhandling, prostitution, trespassing, loitering and open drug use.

In that time, 106 police files were created.

According to Baher, following the two weeks of the extra policing the number of thefts from vehicles in the downtown core dropped 47.5 per cent, from 40 to 21.

Baher said she would like to continue the extra policing in the downtown core for as long as possible.

Since the RCMP began tracking files associated with the street entrenched population in June 25 a total of 803 response calls were Street Entrenched Policing Target Analysis (SEPTA) files.

Baher said police err on the side of caution when filing these reports as RCMP members must be certain an incident is SEPTA-related, or it can’t be filed as such.

“There are a lot of files that we don’t know,” she said, offering the example of a theft from a car in a crime of opportunity.

“We can’t say for certain that person is street entrenched,” she said, therefore the file is not counted under SEPTA.

Another component to the Drug Enforcement Unit is to strengthen relationships with organizations that serve Vernon’s street entrenched population.

“We met with the Mission… and came up with ideas to help their services and help them be a better neighbour in the downtown community,” she said.

Councillors received the third-quarter results as information.

READ MORE: Citizens give a hoot about injured Vernon owl

READ MORE: Killer who fled to Taiwan day after shooting B.C. man over $80 sentenced 13 years later


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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