Editor’s note: The following is a submission requested by the Driftwood for a special Salute to RCMP page in the Aug. 4 issue of the newspaper.
By SGT. CLIVE SEABROOK
Salt Spring RCMP Detachment Commander
British Columbians are in the midst of some extraordinary times.
In recent weeks, our province has experienced a record-breaking heatwave as many parts of the province are contending with serious wildfires. We have watched with concern as people in the Village of Lytton and neighbouring Indigenous communities were forced to evacuate. The images of the catastrophic damage to the village, including the Lytton RCMP detachment, and a nearby community were shocking. And, of course, all of this is happening against the backdrop of the ongoing opioid crisis and COVID-19 pandemic.
As troubling as these times have been, I find myself feeling grateful for all that Salt Spring offers and the sense of community that living here provides. The RCMP officers and staff of the Salt Spring detachment continue to work hard to keep our community safe. Our officers regularly investigate alleged violations of the Criminal Code, Liquor Control and Licencing Act, Canada Shipping Act, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as well as many other provincial legislations. So far this year, Salt Spring’s RCMP detachment has received more than 1,600 calls for service. Those calls include motor vehicle collisions, mischief to property, assaults, drug trafficking, and incidents related to people suffering from mental health and addictions.
I am grateful for the dedication of our officers. In the first two quarters of 2021 (January 1 through June 30), Salt Spring RCMP responded to 1,374 calls for service, including five child pornography investigations, 15 sexual assaults, 262 mental health occurrences, 12 firearms complaints, various traffic violations and multiple COVID-19 complaints. In addition, 750 foot patrols in Ganges and Centennial Park along with 175 licensed premises checks were conducted during this period.
I would also say that I am grateful for the dedicated staff at BC Ambulance, Salt Spring Fire Department and Salt Spring Search and Rescue, as we frequently work side by side with them in difficult circumstances.
I am grateful to see a sharp decline in calls for service to Ganges and Centennial Park. Specifically, complaints of yelling, swearing, public intoxication and assaults. This improvement has been the result of a community response, as Salt Spring RCMP has worked collaboratively with Island Health, staff at Lady Minto Hospital, Mental Health outreach workers, IWAV, Community Services, Salt Spring Health Advisory Network, CRD staff, and the people who live and work there every day (especially the merchants of Ganges Alley). I would also like to acknowledge CRD director Gary Holman’s contribution to this issue, as he continues to be engaged wherever possible.
As we move forward, Salt Spring RCMP members look forward to getting back to a new normal. Some initiatives include going back into local schools to foster positive relationships with our young people, increased check-stops, as we continue to take impaired drivers off the road, and hopefully the start of a Speedwatch program in an attempt to make our roads safer.
Back to Full Staffing in September
As you may know, Salt Spring RCMP detachment is comprised of six constables, one corporal and one sergeant, for a total of eight officers.
For a variety of reasons, the detachment has been short two members for a number of years. I am pleased to announce that one of our members is returning from paternity leave this August (2021) and another new member is transferring to Salt Spring Island in September. This means that the Salt Spring detachment will be fully staffed for the first time in recent memory.
Our officers and staff are proud to live and work on Salt Spring Island and enjoy being part of the community. Although the detachment can be a busy place, that work is made easier by the unwavering support of the residents of Salt Spring Island we receive every day.