By Mark Squibb/February 24, 2022
Members of Harbour Grace and Bay Roberts RCMP detachments gave a loaded update during the CBN Joint Council meeting last month.
District Commander Sgt. Kenny Maher and Sgt. Lynn Gaudet gave the presentation.
Maher gave statistics for the Harbour Grace department, while Gaudet read the numbers for Bay Roberts.
Both departments, said Maher, are receiving additional members.
“We’re pretty well up to snuff for resources,” said Maher. “We are waiting for a couple of transfers. We have four new members who are set to arrive between now and sometime after April. We have a recruit coming out of training, and she should be here February 21, a young girl from Nova Scotia starting out her career in Harbour Grace. And we’ve got three additionals who will arrive. Usually with budgets that stuff starts after April, so sometime after April 1 we should start to see bodies come in.”
Maher said there is only one member leaving the detachment this summer— if he finds another RCMP transfer or suitable job elsewhere.
“So, resource wise, we are a couple bodies short right now, but that’s just pending transfers,” said Maher. “Staff have already been working on it and the backfills have been mostly identified, and we anticipate that by the summer months we’ll be up in full staff.”
He added that renovations to the Harbour Grace detachment are almost complete, and front counter service will resume soon.
“It’s been nearly a year that we’ve been working in a construction zone,” said Maher. “For the last eight months members have been working out of the kitchen so it’s been tough. We’re all happy to be back at our desks now, so hopefully in the next couple of weeks if you have to come to the detachment for anything, the door will be open, because previously the door would be locked and you would have to call us and we would meet you out back or at the side door to deal with whatever your request was. Hopefully in the next week or two, we’ll be back to full services.”
In 2020, the Harbour Grace detachment responded to 3,766 calls. In 2021, that number rose to 4,047, an increase of 281 calls.
For January of this year, as of the January 27 meeting, the detachment received 212 calls.
Out of those, 27 were crimes against persons, three were impaired crimes, two of which resulted in charges, while the third remains pending, six were mental health related calls, 10 for off road vehicle complaints, and 11 collision calls. Of the collision calls, three resulted in injuries, and eight resulted in property damage.
“Of note for the month, we had a pedestrian MVC (motor vehicle collision) in Carbonear on the intersection of Beach Road and High Road South,” said Maher. “The pedestrian suffered some serious injuries, but nothing life-threatening.”
He added the detachment had a ‘bit of an OD (overdose) spurt’
“There’s been numerous overdoes,” said Maher. “We were involved in three as the police, and I’m not sure on the health side of things how many there were. Our members administered Narcan, or naloxone, which is basically a nasal spray that we now carry on our vests to reverse the effects of opioids, and successfully revived two individuals. Unfortunately, there was a fatality, and that was before we got there. It wasn’t a fresh overdose unfortunately.”
He noted that in the previous week there was an armed robbery at Trinity Square Mall, where an individual brandishing a needle approached an employee attempting to put a deposit into the bank.
“We have some video from the mall that’s gone out to the media, and hopefully we’ll get some tips,” said Maher.
He added there is currently an ongoing province wide focus group for the evaluation of the Newfoundland and Labrador Health Care and Treatment Act. Maher has been assigned one of the seats on that focus group and said he will support establishment of a mental health mobile crisis team.
Gaudet then gave the statistics for the Bay Roberts detachment.
Year over year, Bay Roberts actually saw a decrease in calls. In 2020, the detachment received 3,547 calls for service, while in 2021 they received 3,404 calls.
As of the meeting, the detachment had received 157 calls this year. Fourteen of those were crimes against persons, five were impaired driving calls, resulting in one charge, and mental health calls numbered 12. There were 13 collisions, including two injuries, and 11 instances of property damage. The detachment received four calls related to offroad vehicles, one of which resulted in an ATV being impounded.
“He flew by the office while Kenny and I were having a meeting,” said Gaudet.
She added the detachment also received a call that resulted in a standoff.
“It was resolved without any real incident,” said Gaudet. “It was a call from (the Department of) Child, Senior, and Social Development, and a male was barricaded inside the house with a knife. Nobody was hurt and it was all resolved.”
During a Q&A session, Carbonear councillor Danielle Doyle asked about the increases in crime in the region.
“On the Newfoundland and Labrador RCMP social media, most of the activity in the province, and I don’t know if this is just me, but every time I see it on social media, it’s Trinity Conception,” said Doyle. “Is this increase in all this stuff provincewide, or does it just seem that a lot of the focus seems to be on this area?”
Maher said the region has a high case load.
“This is a very busy area, there’s no doubt,” said Maher. “Stats wise, we’re ranking, if not the busiest, in the top two or three busiest in the province. And that’s reflective of why we have 30 police officers on the road, compared to some of the other areas that don’t. There’s still room of course for additional resources, because of the file load and because we’re seeing increases from 2020 to 2021.”
He added another factor is that the local detachments are quite pro-active in keeping the public informed of their activity.
“We review the files in the morning and the first thing we do is send a brief to media relations so that they’re aware of what’s going on and they get it out so you’re aware and the communities are aware of what’s going on,” he explained. “We want you guys to know how busy we are. We don’t want to alarm you that the place is gone to the dogs, but at the same time, you may often hear tell of people complaining that they’re not seeing the police do this, that, or anything else, but at least with us, updating our media, it’s the easiest way to get out there and show you that our officers are taxed to the max right now, and we don’t have a lot of time for the patrols to quiet areas where there is not a whole lot of crime on the go. Because right now we’re pretty well full-blown time responding to calls for service. So, it does go to the fact that resource wise and funding wise, there is a need for additional bodies on the road for the area, and the other side of it is that we’re giving everything to media the next morning, so it gets out.”
Superintendent Dan Austin, District Policing Officer in Charge of Eastern Region, closed out the conversation by reminding the Joint Council members how important it is for municipalities to support the RCMP.
“As long as the community leaders engage the elected officials of the province, and that is kept to the forefront, the conversation is continuous, and they realize that we have to make sure we are being funded properly,” said Austin.
He added that he is in constant contact with detachments in the area, and the RCMP works quickly to fill vacancies.
He added that he is currently sifting through the applications for District Commander to replace former commander Greg Hicks.
“Once that is done, I can start the selection process, and find the replacement, officially, for Greg Hicks,” said Austin.