The Port Alberni RCMP will institute a crime reduction unit to identify the community’s chronic offenders and provide them with support and resources.
Port Alberni detachment Inspector Brian Hunter, said at a Jan. 23 Port Alberni City Council meeting that the unit will be made up of two officers who will be solely responsible for identifying the chronic offenders in the community.
“They will be meeting with these chronic offenders, letting them know that they have been identified as a chronic offender, letting them know that we will be exercising specific police enforcement towards these individuals to ensure we hold them accountable, all the while offering support and services should they want to get out of that criminal circle,” Hunter said.
Hunter said some of the spikes in crime seen in the Alberni Valley this year can be attributed to chronic offenders in the community.
He said that when these individuals are put in jail experience shows that crime in the area drops significantly.
“A lot of [repeat offense] has to do with substance abuse,” Hunter said. “We will be working with the Ministry, we will be working with mental health, probation, social services and various other community groups to do a wrap around approach to try and get them the help that they need.”
Hunter said because of the busy nature at the Port Alberni detachment, assigning two members to exclusively be on the crime reduction unit will help take a more proactive approach to crime reduction in the city.
“Around April 1 this unit will be fully functioning,” Hunter said. “We’re already in meetings with probation and Crown Counsel, creating our partnerships in that regard.”
During the fourth quarter of 2016, the Port Alberni RCMP received and responded to 2,087 calls for service in the city, down from 2,112 during the same quarter in 2015. Criminal Code Offences were up 8.5 per cent for the quarter compared to 2015. Hunter said this increase is largely due to an increase in thefts, theft from vehicles, cause disturbance and breach of bail.
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The RCMP received two serious files during this reporting period, Hunter said. One was an infant death that resulted in manslaughter charges and the second was a stabbing in the Johnston Road McDonald’s restaurant that resulted in an attempted murder charge.