Fewer calls for Masset RCMP

  • Jul. 22, 2013 2:00 p.m.

Masset RCMP saw a significant drop in calls for service this spring, Sgt. Blake Ward told Port Clements council last week as he presented his quarterly policing report. During April, May and June of this year, he said, the detachment received 322 calls for service – down 14 percent from the 376 calls for service received during the same three-month period in 2012. The number of calls declined in all communities served by the Masset detachment – Masset, Old Massett and New Town, and Port Clements – as did calls coming from the rural areas outside village limits. However, Sgt. Ward said, despite the overall decrease, there was a large jump in the number of property crimes, with the detachment receiving 40 property crime calls this spring compared to just 25 the year before. Sgt. Ward said he took a close look at these files due to the unusual increase. Most of the crimes were not carefully planned, he said, and most of the stolen items were not especially valuable. Almost all were what he called “crimes of opportunity”: the perpetrators are often drunk or on drugs, and they break into a vehicle as they walk past because it’s unlocked, or take it for a joyride because the keys are in the ignition, or steal an unsecured bicycle.Sgt. Ward said members of the public can protect themselves against these kinds of crimes by taking simple steps to secure their property. Even though it’s a small community, he said people should never leave their keys in the ignition, should always lock their vehicles and bikes up, and should make sure there is no easy access to their homes. “The community can do more to stop this, is what I’m trying to say,” he told Port council members. The Masset detachment is trying various strategies to reduce the number of property crimes, he said. One of these is an “offender board” they’ve put up in the office, where RCMP members can post pictures and details about people who have been causing problems. “By having the members more aware of the offenders on this board and their activities, the members will be able to recognize them and conduct more enforcement actions towards them,” he said in his quarterly report. Sgt. Ward said reducing drug use remains a top priority for the Masset detachment, and that many members of the public are not aware of the extent of the problem. A relatively large volume of illegal drugs make their way onto Haida Gwaii considering its small population, he said. Getting information from members of the public is crucial when it comes to stopping the drug trade, he said. It’s also important that members of the public leave their names and talk to an officer, he said, even if they want to remain anonymous.The RCMP and dispatchers will not release the identity of callers and will never broadcast any details about them, he said. For example, he said, earlier this year RCMP received an anonymous tip about drugs arriving on island, and managed to seize a substantial amount of illegal substances. However, because they knew nothing about the caller, they were not able to proceed with a court case. In this situation, he said, one of the things they would have wanted to ask the caller was whether anyone else had the information, in order to protect the caller. Several new faces have arrived at the Masset detachment in the past few months, Sgt. Ward said, and he told Port council members to drop by any time to meet them. Const. Cory Abbott and Const. Chris Kienzle have recently arrived with their families, and Const. Bryan Schultz has been working in Masset since April. Const. Schultz grew up in Queen Charlotte so he has a strong connection to Haida Gwaii, Sgt. Ward said. The detachment also has a new corporal, Glen Breckon, who has been working at the North District Drug Section in Prince George, and has also worked in Prince Rupert and on Vancouver Island.