Kelowna RCMP commander responds to stats showing crime wave

Top cop reacts to crime stats

The Kelowna RCMP’s new commander, just days on the job, is responding to new federal statistics that suggest a crime surge took place in the community last year. 

Kelowna saw the highest increase in crime rate across any region in all of Canada between 2018 and 2019, and as a result, had Canada's second highest crime rate in 2019 next to Lethbridge.

Kelowna's crime severity index, which takes into account the volume and severity of police-reported crime, rose by 20 per cent in 2019, the largest increase of any region in Canada.

“We recognize that this ranking appears concerning, but I would like to stress that Kelowna and the surrounding communities remain extremely safe,” said Supt. Kara Triance in a statement Thursday evening.

Triance said the raw numbers don’t provide full context, with the size of Kelowna, a change in how crimes are reported and some new programs targeting property crime factoring into the equation.

The top cop says the Kelowna area has a relatively small population “and very proactive RCMP detachments that self-generate police files.”

“Kelowna is also a resort destination during the summer with a significant increase in visitor population. While that number is not reflected in our population statistics, it does affect reported crime.”

While Kelowna saw a 60 per cent jump in violent crime in 2019 giving Kelowna the third highest violent crime rate in Canada, Triance said property crime is what is driving the overall surge in crime rates. 

“Due to the Kelowna CMA`s relatively small population size one or two prolific offenders who commit these crimes can have a dramatic effect on the region’s crime statistics,” Triance said.

She added that in January 2019, new standards for crime statistics were created which were expected to result in an increase in crime rates over time.

“It is important to stress that we have been monitoring these statistics on a continuous basis. That’s why we have introduced a number of significant changes and improvements in how police service is delivered in the area over the past year,” Triance said, before listing the initiatives. 

  • Focusing on community partnerships such as working with the Kelowna Outreach and Support Team, Social Services agencies, and the Interior Health to address the complex problems around housing, mental health, and poverty.
  • The addition of six positions to the community safety unit, putting more uniformed officers on the street in downtown Kelowna and Rutland area, with increased patrols on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • A new online crime reporting website to make it easier  to report theft and other crimes
  • Implementing the General Investigative Support Team (GIST). This team is embedded with frontline officers and provides ongoing and immediate assistance with more serious and complex investigations.
  • Focussing on employee training and wellness programs to support those who perform this work.

“It is our belief that these changes better allow us to serve our communities in the region and to help disrupt criminals that may be in the area,” Triance said.

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