Less than 10 per cent of Penticton police calls for service for the first three months of the year went to the homeless shelters in town.
Out of the 3,604 calls for police service throughout Penticton, 231 were to the four Penticton shelters and supportive housing facilities in the first quarter of 2021. Originally, Pentiction RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter presented higher numbers to city council during his quarterly report on Tuesday.
Because of a human error, the number of files generated for each address was inadvertently doubled. All of the other statistics presented to council were not effected and are accurate.
In an effort to amend these numbers, the following is the updated calls for service related to each facility for the first quarter of 2021:
Victory Church: 145
Compass Court: 55
Burdock House: 22
“The accuracy of statistics presented to the community is of the utmost importance to me. I take responsibility for this error and apologize for any issues it may have caused,” said Hunter in a press release.
Of those calls, the majority, 145, came to the Victory Church shelter on Winnipeg Street.
The calls for service include crime, theft, threats and nuisance, said Hunter.
There were 55 calls to Compass Court, 22 calls to Burdock House and 9 to Fairhaven.
“No other area can compete for that amount of calls for service,” said Hunter to questions from council about if there are other areas of concern that match that amount of time from police.
Hunter said he was “very excited” to see the announcement of a recovery-based supportive housing coming to Penticton at Skaha Lake Road.
“To focus on recovery and to get them out of the cycle of addiction which we know can be a root cause of crime. If we can get them the help they need, crime will go down,” Hunter told council.
On Monday, ASK Wellness Society and the Ooknakane Friendship Centre announced their partnership on the proposed Skaha Lake Road BC Housing project that will allow participants to focus on their recovery. The housing will be a dry facility.
Also, for the first time, Penticton police will be working with Interior Health who are providing a nurse to go with them to mental health and addictions calls.
But given the number of calls to the shelters and social issues surrounding them, Hunter has added mental health and addictions as one of their priorities for this year.
To that end, he has added addictions and mental health as the detachment’s top priorities for 2021 to 2022.
The priorities for Penticton police this year is property crime, traffic and road safety, family and sexual violence as well as employee wellness.
Officers in Penticton are getting burned out with caseloads that are double the B.C. average.
Hunter was in front of city council in February to explain that the caseload is ‘unsustainable.’
The city is hiring two officers this year to join the prolific offender task force.
“Recently we’ve had firearm events with people firing at police, ramming police vehicles. I’m thankful our members weren’t harmed but this disregard for life is very frustrating,” Hunter said.
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