Staff Sgt. Marko Shehovac recently provided information about community policing to the councils of the three municipalities in the Columbia Valley.
In total, there were 815 calls for service recorded at the Columbia Valley RCMP Detachment this quarter, which accounts for April to June.
Last year, during the same time period, there were 631 calls for service recorded by the Columbia Valley RCMP Detachment.
There were 231 in the District of Invermere this quarter as opposed to 203 at the same time last quarter; there were 26 calls in Canal Flats this year as opposed to 19 at this time last year; and 84 calls for service compared to 54 in Radium Hot Springs last year during this quarter.
Everywhere has gone up, explained Mr. Shehovac when asked about the increasing numbers of calls. Its been a busier summer for traffic and people coming to the valley, especially the last long weekend.
He added that, in all of the years he has been serving the Columbia Valley, the ramifications of long weekends have increased the demand for a strong police presence to support the community and promote safety.
Its been hectic, he said, noting there is an extra $9,000 for seasonal policing that will be used for extra patrols. Other than that, theres no extra manpower. We just have to run from call to call. There are no extra bodies for us.
However, the Columbia Valley RCMP Detachment is not understaffed, according to Mr. Shehovac.
He believes the problems that are being reported are largely related to alcohol, which ties into tourism.
People come here to let their hair down and party, said Mr. Shehovac. Theyll come here and drive their golf carts on the highway and on the road, but they wont do that where they come from. But for some reason, its OK to do that here in the valley.
People think the laws are left at home, and come here to party, but thats the price you pay for being a resort community.
But the traffic accidents that have been reported have raised alarm bells for Mr. Shehovac.
My message to the mayors and councils and to the people is that, unfortunately, these things happen where we get a fatality or a serious accident, and that scene becomes a crime scene that we (the police) have to protect, he said. While youre sitting in line being frustrated with the wait, youve got to remember that somebodys family and loved ones are having a bad day.
In addition, Mr. Shehovac voiced concerns about the delays that come from accidents when traffic analysts are being called to attend Columbia Valley accidents from either Golden or Nelson. He used a motorcycle fatality that occurred on Radium Hill in early July as an example about the traffic congestion that happens during accidents.
We dont have traffic analysts at our finger tips, so we sometimes have to wait for them to get here, concluded Mr. Shehovac, while adding he would be collecting information about the best strategy to manage what he calls crime scenes so that families get all of the details and commuting is manageable for others.