Insp. Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment, said the last three months of the pandemic have brought numerous challenges to the local police force. (File photo)

Pandemic tests Vancouver Island RCMP

Cowichan’s Insp. Chris Bear said last three months full of challenges

The last three months were like nothing the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment has ever seen before, according to Insp. Chris Bear.

Bear, who heads the detachment, told North Cowichan’s council in a report that that the quarter covering April through June was filled with “highs and lows”, largely the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the regular community consultations and planning sessions were being held in March, but were put on hold when the health crisis struck.

“While the restrictions have eased up slightly, we are still dealing with the new normal and operations at the detachment continue to operate at limited functions compared to what they were pre-pandemic,” Bear said.

“Institutions, where serving inmates are housed, saw many being released early and court proceedings were suspended in order to flatten the curve. Court proceedings are planned to resume in July. There was overwhelming support and appreciation from the community for our frontline personnel and essential workers who continued to provide services during these times, and our employees very much appreciated this.”

RELATED STORY: INCREASE IN CRIME IN DUNCAN CONNECTED TO COVID-19 CRISIS, POLICE REPORT

Bear said one police action that stood out during the quarter was when officers were called by the Nature Trust of BC for help removing illegal campers in the area of Somenos Marsh.

He said a lot of ground work with foot patrols and warnings were issued in the days following up to the notice to vacate that was set for May 27.

“The RCMP urged the campers to pack up with their belongings on their own accord prior to May 27,” Bear said.

“On [May 27], RCMP officers stood by to keep the peace in order to support the clean up. Most campers had departed prior to arrival, however a significant amount of trash was left which took some time to bring the area back to its near natural state.”

RELATED STORY: AAP FOR NEW $48-MILLION RCMP DETACHMENT SET TO BEGIN

Bear said that in March, the RCMP’s Warmland community policing program for that area was put on hold as a result of the pandemic.

He said the program is also going through some re-structuring at this time and will hopefully be up and running in the near future.

“The detachment remains an extremely busy one with significantly high case load and calls for service,” Bear said.

“In reviewing the past 25 years of calls-for-service data for our detachment, the past four years [2016-2019] were among the highest years for CFS. CFS have increased every year since 2012, and have increased 47 per cent over those seven years.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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