New sergeant joins Trail detachment

Sgt. Darren Oelke will be rejoining Trail RCMP after eight years in Prince George.

Cpl. Dave Johnson is ready to get back to his regular beat after acting as sergeant for the Trail and Greater District RCMP detachment.

“I’ve been acting sergeant for four months and I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “The job has mostly been managing staff and the budget, it’s been interesting. But the permanent sergeant should be here at the end of April or early May and I’ll go back to my supervisory position where I’m actually out catching the bad guys.”

Johnson has been managing the detachment since early January when long-term staff sergeant, Rob Hawton, retired.

Sgt. Darren Oelke, who was stationed in Trail eight years ago, will be coming from Prince George to take over the management of the detachment.

“I’ve been in Trail for 13 years and I’ve enjoyed my time here,” said Hawton. “I’ve served around B.C. and I think this is one of the best areas in the province to live. I’m sure he’ll (Sgt. Oelke) enjoy it here.

“I think it says something that he worked here before and wants to come back to the community.”

Prior to hanging up his hat, Johnson presented local crime statistics to Trail council at their regular Monday night meeting.

Results showed a slight increase in sexual assaults, robberies, motor vehicle thefts and drug offences, while assaults, break and enters, theft and mischief were down for the Silver City.

“Even with the statistic for robbery showing an increase, it’s important to note that only one of those was an actual robbery of a convenience store with a knife,” said Johnson, referring to the robbery of the downtown Trail 7-Eleven store in December of 2013.

“The remaining five recorded incidents involved the threat of violence, not all were what you would normally think of when you say robbery.”

Even in the categories that showed slight increases the occurrences were few enough to reflect the relatively laid back rural aspect of living in the Kootenays and nowhere near what is seen in larger population centres.

“We’re happy with these numbers, I think it’s a reflection on the prolific offenders approach we’ve taken to crime reduction,” Johnson said. “There’s people on release conditions from previous offenses and when you hold these people to those conditions and get them in front of a judge when they don’t follow them, it gets them off the street before they offend again.”

In addition to the crime stats, Johnson also brought forward information on traffic and impaired driving statistics for 2013. The results indicated an usual shift in which the numbers of actual impaired driving charges and roadside suspensions essentially reversed.

In 2012, there were 12 impaired offenses recorded and two roadside suspensions. In 2013, there were only four impaired charges on the books and 12 suspensions.

“There was a time in 2012 when the Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRP) wasn’t in effect, cases were going through the courts,” Johnson said. “The motor vehicle avenue was limited so we recorded more criminal code violations. It was a matter of how we processed the crimes. In 2013, once the IRP’s were declared valid we were able to use that avenue again.”

Johnson says he thinks his replacement should fit in to the Trail position without many concerns.

“It should be a pretty easy turnover for him with his familiarity of the area,” Johnson said. “He was also running their Crime Reduction Unit in Prince George which is similar to what we’re trying to do here, focus on the low percentage of the people who are committing the high percentage of the crimes.”

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