Crime stats presented to city council.

Crime stats presented to city council.

Impaired driving up, downtown crime down says Maple Ridge’s top cop

Police chief Hyland reports to city council on crime and policing

Crime and policing were on the agenda at city hall on Tuesday.

Impaired drivers and policing in the downtown core were two of the issues highlighted as Ridge Meadows RCMP Superintendent Jennifer Hyland offered city council a quarterly report.

The city’s top cop highlighted a “disconcerting” number of impaired drivers, and said police are planning more community education.

Under Project Domino, a program aimed at taking drunk drivers off the roads, eight officers have qualified for Alexa’s Team in 2020 – that means they conducted 12 impaired driving investigations each. It is the most members of Alexa’s Team the city has ever had, and Hyland said more members will reach that 12 investigation threshold by the end of the year.

Impaired driving investigations are up 40 per cent over 2019, year to date, she said. Project Domino Effect performed 553 impaired driving investigations in 2019.

“It’s actually a bit disheartening there are that many impaired drivers on the roads,” she said, adding the detachment conducts the most impaired driving investigations per capita in the province.

READ ALSO: Ridge Meadows RCMP initiative results in fewer impaired driving deaths

Coun. Kiersten Duncan noted Operation Red Nose, which sees volunteers give people who have been drinking a safe ride home through the holiday season, will not be operating this year due to COVID-19. That could result in more drivers getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Inspector Allison Good also presented to council about crime. She noted that over the six-month period from April 1 to Sept. 30

• Property crime is at a five-year low, down 16 per cent from 2019 year to date. There were 838 incidents in third quarter of 2020, compared with 1,072 in third quarter of 2019.

• Mental Health incidents continue in significant numbers, with 378 in the second quarter, and 303 in the third quarter.

• Downtown crime stats for the second and third quarters showed there were 148 foot patrols by RCMP in the downtown core, and 157 incidents with charges recommended to Crown Counsel.

The number one crime investigated in the area was causing a disturbance, with 568 incidents.

Hyland spoke about the city’s Community Safety Officer program, which is a team that operates within bylaw services to “provide a swift and effective response to some of the city’s most challenging social problems,” according to the city website.

In the downtown core, Criminal Code and drug incidents dropped from 930 in first quarter to 839 in second, and 801 in third.

“It’s a very valuable program. Obviously there is a limitation to what a CSO can do,” said Hyland. “As the chief of police, I’m not going to stand here and say you don’t need to invest in police officers anymore.”

One of the reasons RCMP cancelled its own CSO program, is because regular officers have to take over investigations at some point, she said.

Coun. Ahmed Yousef asked about public use of illicit narcotics.

“Does open drug use fall under that category of illegal street activities?” he asked, saying it was for public edification.

READ ALSO: B.C. premier asks Trudeau to decriminalize illicit drug possession as deaths climb

Hyland answered the Canadian Chiefs of Police and Public Safety Canada have come out with a report on decriminalization of drugs.

“It has been made very clear that the courts, and the Crown, and the justice system will not be charging or running trials for simple possession drug use or even simple trafficking charges,” said Hyland.

Using drugs in public may not be offence, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be dealt with, she added, saying police will move people along, and generally dissuade open drug use.

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