Assaults, impaired drivers and COVID checks

By Chris Lewis | April 1, 2021

The Harbour Grace and Bay Roberts RCMP detachments have been plenty busy so far this year.

Each month, representatives from most of Conception Bay North’s communities meet for joint council meetings. The March meeting took place on Thursday, March 25, and opened with a presentation from both the Bay Roberts and Harbour Grace RCMP detachments. Staff Sergeants Ken Maher and Greg Hicks from Bay Roberts and Harbour Grace respectively gave joint council members a run down of their detachments’ work thus far in 2021.

Throughout March, Maher said the Bay Roberts detachment responded to a total of 233 calls for service, which he said is on par with the number they saw around this time last year.

So far in 2021 though, the detachment has responded to just under 700.

Of those 233, Maher listed 10 crimes against persons, four impaired driving, 21 mental health calls, five injury collisions and 12 property damage collisions, seven off-road vehicle related calls, and three checks for COVID-19 quarantine compliance.

He went into further detail about the impaired driving files, stating that three of them resulted in collisions. During one of those crashes, one driver had blown over twice the legal limit.

“At the start of the month there was a crash near Tilton, and that one was impaired by drugs” Maher said. “We ended up getting a warrant to search the car and we had quite a large seizure of drugs and paraphernalia … Now we’re just waiting for some lab results back on that one.”

Maher said the detachment’s traffic unit has been busy on the roads this last week or so, noting people will have likely noticed an increase in RCMP presence along the roads in nearby communities and along the Veteran’s Memorial Highway.

He also said the majority of the detachment’s members have received their first COVID-19 vaccine shot, and said it likely came at a good time.

“We had a lot of our members that ended up in quarantine … When we had that outbreak in St. John’s, there was a lot of connections there from sports teams and whatnot, so we were down a few bodies for a couple different 14-day periods,” he explained. “So, we were a bit short for a few days, but the rest of the crew picked up the slack, and no complaints from anyone.”

As for Harbour Grace, Hicks was on hand to provide a similar report. He described the last month as a bit of an anomaly for his detachment.

Over the course of the month, the detachment had 322 calls, with a total of 855 so far this year.

“That number did pique my interest,” he said.

He explained this time last year, the monthly number was about 100 less at 233.

What he found from these numbers is the detachment had received a lot more false alarms than they are used to. In some cases as well, he saw more mental health related calls.

“With children out of school, we do have some group homes that service youth in the Harbour Grace area, and it seems like they needed us a little bit more, so those are what we’re chopping (the increased numbers) up to.”

He said he will continue to monitor the numbers closely month after month, stating such an increase in calls was a lot more than they were anticipating.

Of the 322 calls, there were 22 crimes against persons, nine impaired driving reports, 22 mental health calls, eight property damage collisions and four injury collisions, 12 quarantine act calls and 14 off-road vehicle concerns.

Hicks also said the detachment was wrapping up the last of their COVID-19 vaccinations that week.

“That’s good news for us, and good news for everybody. Hopefully, before long, we’ll all have it,” he said.

Hicks also stated that every marked police car in the district now has roadside screening devices for alcohol.

“So now, officers have that tool with them right away and won’t have to wait for someone to bring them one – that’s a huge step in the right direction when it comes to addressing impaired driving,” he said. “We were also able to secure four more radar sets, so all of our patrol cars on the road now will be able to do speed enforcement.”

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