The COVID-19 pandemic has led to some interesting changes in the world of policing, says Sooke’s top cop.
Staff Sgt. Brett Sinden, commander of the Sooke RCMP, provided details of the detachment’s annual performance plan to district council. He highlighted a reduction in property crime and impaired driving.
“It certainly was a year that I’ve never experienced as a police officer,” Sinden said. “COVID helped with some issues. It was a little quiet for a good chunk of the year.”
In the detachment’s 2020-2021 fiscal year, the RCMP’s goal was to reduce impaired driving incidents by five percent, but there was a 25 per cent reduction. Sooke police also conducted 110 high-profile check stops and participated in five ICBC road safety campaigns.
Crime reduction statistics were equally impressive, with Mounties again hoping for a five per cent reduction but saw the number tumble down 15 per cent. In addition, police conducted 375 curfew checks.
For the first time, Sooke RCMP tracked the number of “priority area” patrols – a method of limiting criminal activity and maximize safety in a particular area. Police documented 5,291 patrols.
“We’ve always done that work but never tracked,” Sinden said. “It’s certainly something we’re going to carry on to the next year. It helps us focus on the problem.”
Over the last year, Sooke funded 13 police officers and hopes to add another Mountie to the ranks next year.
Sinden said because of COVID, police cannot conduct some duties, including easy access to local schools.
“A lot of pressure comes with COVID-19, and (many) files don’t necessarily show up in crime stats – things like neighbour disputes. There are a lot of frustrated people out there,” he said.
“I anticipate getting busier as things get back to normal here.”