By Andrea Arnold
Valemount RCMP Sergeant Robert Dean presented an overview of the detachment’s recent activities at the March 14 Council meeting. Corporal Devon Reid was also present.
“We have had a very productive year in regards to initiatives we have done in the community,” said Sgt. Dean.
Drug and traffic crack-downs
He spoke specifically about traffic enforcement initiatives. Project Windstorm September 19th-22nd 2022 and Project Hailstorm January 14th-17th 2023. The statistics from Project Windstorm in September were not available for presentation, but Sgt Dean recalled that there were firearm seizures and at least three cars with drugs. He provided more information regarding the January project.
These two initiatives were set forward by the traffic support unit (formerly the roving traffic unit). Specialized individuals are brought in from all over the province: Drug Recognition Experts , Impaired Investigators specializing in detecting impaired drivers, Roving Traffic Unit members utilizing drug detection dogs and members from other BC Highway patrol Units.
The project was a partnership between members from BC Highway Patrol Prince George (two members worked Highway 16 area), Valemount general duty RCMP, Ledcor Drug Detection Dogs, Ledcor Security and K Division RTU Unit. The Ledcor human and canine teams hit both the Valemount and Blue River camps. Specific statistics for the camps were not released. Weather and road conditions created difficult work conditions and resulted in the Prince George team to only attend one day.
90 tickets and 84 warnings were issued over the four day period. Violation ticketed amount was an estimated $16,000. Some of the statistics to note were 10 cannabis violations, 18 criminal interdictions and 48 tickets issued for speeding. There were many warnings issued as well as several seizures of cannabis, tobacco, cocaine, methamphetamine, and weapons such as baton and knives where no charges were laid.
“During this initiative resourcing was an issue,” said Sgt Dean.
Between staffing issues at the time, and weather, they were not able to have as many people involved as they had hoped. The teams have been invited back for another spring/summer initiative and Sgt. Dean hopes they will have more resources available to allow for greater impact.
He said that due to the remote locations, filling positions in Valemount is sometimes difficult. The department is now running at full capacity with one member on graduated return to work status, and all six members are settled into force-provided accommodation.
Sgt Dean says Valemount is lucky to have a fully staffed detachment. Many other forces are running short staffed. Cpl Reid commented that there are not as many people coming through training. His son went through training three years ago, and enrollment numbers seem to be declining.
The Valemount crew is a hybrid system, covering both traffic and general duty services. Last year they issued 1772 notices or violation tickets on the highway, 13 of which resulted in impoundment for excessive speed (over 140km/h). Sgt Dean said that this past year, they have seen a decrease in collisions: 28 of these resulted in injuries and damages over $10,000. 109 collisions with damages under $10,000. Local RCMP have responded to three fatalities on the highway.
Councillor Pearson asked if the hybrid model is better for the area. Sgt Dean said that Valemount and Stewart BC are the only two detachments that he knows of that operate the hybrid model. He said that he is pleased with the way it is working in the area. Prior to its inception as a trial model about 12 years ago, there was an issue of “not my job” between the highway patrol officers and the general duty officers, when calls came in for assistance.
The Valemount detachment has opened 1127 files this year, down from 1527 in 2021.
“Roughly 20 per cent of these are directly related to TMX workers,” said Sgt Dean.
He has had personal experience with Ledcor, but finds it is a good working relationship.
“If there is an issue with an employee, the employee is let go almost immediately for breaching code of conduct,” he said.
Sgt Dean knows of 25-28 drug-related instances where employees have been let go. The head of Ledcor security is former RCMP and deals with many issues in-house without involving the RCMP.
Councillor Pete Pearson expressed concern regarding in-town speed issues. He commented that there seems to not be a lot of RCMP visibility in town, and speed is a concern. Sgt Dean acknowledged the concern, and said they will continue to work on that. Cpl Reid reported that all impaired violations were in town, not on the highway.
Sgt Dean said working together with the Village will help them serve the community better.