Dawson Creek RCMP members are dealing with fewer files than last year, but are being kept busy by staff shortages and two complicated cases.
Overall, the detachment is receiving fewer calls for service than in 2015—a year that saw elevated file counts due to an uptick in crime following the economic downturn.
Sgt. Mike Richard updated Dawson Creek city council on the state of the local detachment at a meeting Nov. 21.
Through October 2015, the detachment dealt with 8,363 files. During the same period this year, the file count dropped to 7,119, a decline of around 15 per cent.
Still, file counts have yet to return to levels seen before the last boom in oilpatch activity. The first ten months of 2013, before the latest boom, recorded just 6,889 files.
While file counts give some indication of the detachment’s workload, they don’t tell the full story.
According to Richard, the detachment is working to fill several staff vacancies, including a vacant sergeant position. With fewer members, it’s likely officers aren’t noticing a significant change in workload compared to last year.
Chief Administrative Officer Jim Chute added that files aren’t a full measure of how busy RCMP members are.
For example, RCMP list both 911 calls, which might be resolved within a few hours, and years-long homicide investigations as single files.
“There’s files, and there’s files,” he said.
He said the detachment is working on two “extraordinarily complicated” files, including a recent homicide investigation.
“They by themselves make up for many file counts just due to the nature of the files.”
Two positions at the detachment are currently vacant, while three members are working to sell their homes and are expected to leave in the coming months, Richard told council.
With a full complement of 25 officers, the local RCMP detachment’s staff will soon be down 20 per cent.
Mayor Dale Bumstead said the decline in files is heartening, but added the city would put pressure on senior levels of government to make sure the detachment has a full staff of officers.