Oceanside RCMP Staff Sgt. Marc Pelletier. — NEWS Staff

Oceanside RCMP take on prolific offenders

Parksville detachment commander tells council more staffing needed for traffic enforcement

Prolific offenders are unwelcome in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, and the Oceanside RCMP is making sure they know it.

Staff Stg. Marc Pelletier, commander of the local detachment, presented an incident report update to Parksville’s city council at its regular meeting Monday, Sept. 18. The report highlighted the detachment’s efforts to combat property crime by repeat offenders and transient troublemakers, and also spotlighted the need for more help in tracking down traffic violators.

“Our job right now, I’ve instilled in all the members is, we have prolific offenders in town that thought they could come to Parksville and have free rein in the town,” Pelletier said. “That does not happen anymore.”

Pelletier described prolific offenders as those with 10 or more convictions under the criminal code and who are under probation orders and court-ordered undertakings. He said the detachment is combating these known offenders — who are responsible for 80 per cent of the property thefts from homes, vehicles and businesses — by making multiple random checks on them after curfew.

“In 2016, we did 673 curfew checks,” Pelletier told council. “Right now, we’re up to 2,165 curfew checks for this year. These prolific offenders do not like getting checked. So they either get arrested, they leave town or they go to jail.

“These are guys that are in town here, and we want them out of town.”

Similarly, the RCMP have been trying to crack down on mischief calls in the downtown core, which jumped from 21 in all of 2015 to 126 for the first eight months of 2017. That increase has been driven by in influx of transient offenders, Pelletier said, but the rate has dropped as police have identified those responsible.

“This summer when I was on bike patrol, I checked on these people, and you’d be surprised how many people were from Victoria, from North Vancouver, from the lower east side,” he said. “They’re all coming to Parksville because all they’ve heard is it’s a great place to be and the cops don’t bother you. Well, that’s stopped.”

Coun. Kim Burden asked Pelletier if there has been a reduction in homeless camps in the area. Pelletier replied that those once found on or near the waterfront have largely been abandoned.

“If they’re hiding, they’re hiding further up, off Despard (Avenue) or up in the bush, and we’re not finding them so much anymore,” he said, and went on to credit city staff for its vigorous response to reports of encampments.

“The City of Parksville has been amazing,” Pelletier said. “When we call about a camp, they’ll send vehicles down there and they will pick that garbage up within the hour.”

While the issue of prolific offenders, transients and mischief calls get much of the attention, Pelletier said traffic issues — particularly speeding — generate the largest number of calls to the local detachment.

“Our number one call here is for traffic complaints; that’s 874 calls so far for traffic,” he said. “The issue we have here at the Oceanside detachment is we only have one member (dedicated to traffic). We want to try to get a second member to help out with that; we just can’t keep up with the amount of calls we get for traffic with just one member.”

Burden asked whether most of the calls were for speeding.

“If we could have a team of traffic members dedicated just to speeders, just on the highway there coming through town, it would have an immediate impact,” Pelletier said. “You get down there and hand out 50 tickets, and word gets around pretty quick.”

“Or if we change the structure of the highway…?” Burden prompted.

“That’s out of my hands,” Pelletier answered as several members of the gallery chuckled.

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