Dramatic crime increase continues in Cranbrook
City of Cranbrook council April 25 learned the volume of criminal acts continued to dramatically rise over the fourth quarter of 2021 and first quarter of 2022 in the city.
Cranbrook RCMP Detachment commander S/Sgt. Barry Graham presented the two quarterly reports (see below) to council and then fielded questions.
Asked by Coun. Ron Popoff if there is a continued increase in crime in the city, S/Sgt. Graham said it is “generally increasing; a more dramatic increase over the last few years.”
Popoff pressed if the increases were due to COVID-19 and social issues associated with it.
“I would anticipate there are many factors that go into the trends; population increase in general can impact property crime, for sure. We’ve seen significant changes,” S/Sgt. Graham said.
“We’ve also experienced resource shortages that impact pro-active work. When we’re not out in front of things, crime trends can continue to take off and there are a number of things where there could be more support within the entirety of the social networks. There’s a lot of things and the pandemic certainly didn’t help.”
Retired Mountie Coun. John Hudak focused on the traffic tickets issued statistic for the fourth quarter of 2021, noting the figure 17 “really sticks out.
“With the number of members we have on the municipal side of the detachment and for a three-month period to sit down and see that 17 tickets written… that’s less than one ticket per member.
“The reason I bring it up is I hear on a regular basis people talking about erratic driving. It’s in residential areas, it’s all over the city that people are complaining and I look and I think – 17 tickets. You’ve been around a long time and I certainly spent a bit of time there, that’s a number for a detachment this size is I would think we should be performing at a higher level, even given the reduced resources that you have.
“I would be embarrassed if I was working in a detachment with numbers that low, if I was one of the general duty members,” Hudak concluded.
S/Sgt. Graham said he is not happy with the numbers.
“It has been a challenge. Early on in the pandemic we can say stats would get down to that level because we weren’t have that close contact. For a while, unless it was something serious, we weren’t pulling people over. That’s not the case here. We have experienced those resource shortages, we’ve had the increase in file load and we’ve had an increase in expectations. The amount of documentation that goes into a file right now has our people tied to their desks or tied to their computer when they’re in the cars and we see things. More often in your own vehicle than we’re in a police car driving down the street, but when you have three complicated reports to write up at the end of your shift, which you know all too well,” he said to Coun. Hudak, it all eats into officers’ shifts.
“Seventeen is definitely low,” he added. “I’d be lying if I said I was happy with that but there’s a lot of things that go into that when you’re just treading water all the time.”
S/Sgt Graham told council performance numbers are ”starting to get better” and he’s optimistic “going into the summer. Then, if we were to have a 17-ticket quarter with sufficient bodies to do it, then I’d look more for the shame of what we’re doing proactively.”
The last two years “has been a difficult time” for all first-responders, Graham said.
“The shorter you go, the more overworked you are, the more likely people go off and we’ve relied heavily on a core of people over the last couple of years that I’ll go to bat for in any venue.
“Traffic is important, but I haven’t seen a need to come in heavy-handed to respond to that just yet. But we will, in all categories, keep working and we’re going to do our best to improve.”
Coun. Wes Graham said he isn’t concerned about 17 tickets.
“I would much rather have you guys dealing with police files; dealing with break and enters, dealing with crime. Traffic is so subsidiary right now with what is facing us. That’s what I think policing is and kudos you’re out there, doing what you can with the crew you have. So I take a different tack on that than Coun. Hudak.”