Policing in an elderly community means officers are less likely to have to deal with fist fights, illicit drug overdoses or some of the other problems faced by younger towns, but it provides challenges of its own, says Corporal Jesse Foreman.
“There are differences,” the Oceanside RCMP officer said. “Property crimes and mischief and things like that go down with the elderly, because they’re not out looting and robbing, but traffic is a major concern.”
Foreman noted that ICBC statistics show that while the 18 to 25-year-old demographic tends to be most at risk for traffic incidents, the 65 and older group isn’t far behind.
“Everyone always thinks of youth having an issue with driving — and it’s true — but it’s also supported by statistics that the elderly do as well,” he said.
“People call in about driving behaviors like signaling or lane changes and that may be linked to the demographic.”
While the elderly residents don’t tend to initiate a lot of trouble, their sometimes frail and trusting nature can make them targets for others.
“Everyone knows that Parksville and Qualicum Beach have an elderly demographic now and so we have to be diligent and keep our guard up because those types of people come into town with property crime on their mind,” he said.
Similarly, elderly residents are more likely to be targeted by door-to-door scam artists.
“You get people saying they will repair a few shakes on your roof or redo your driveway and people like that might come here because of the elderly population,” he said. “However, blanket scams on the phone or Internet are generally coming from abroad and they don’t know what they are dealing with.”
Although he stressed there are many honest people who take their business door to door, the detachment often receives as many as one call a week about scammers of this nature.
Foreman said policing priorities are designed to reflect the priorities of the community and this, too, reflects the people who live there.
“The biggest feedback we get every year is that traffic should be our number one priority here,” he said. “In a younger community, that might be very different.”