Trail will help mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women vigil by lighting the Victoria St. Bridge in red on Dec. 5. (Guy Bertrand photo)

Trail RCMP stats show increase in domestic violence reports

Dec. 6 is National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

While domestic violence occurs in all socio-economic sectors and affects all ages, approximately 79 per cent of cases reported to police are intimate partner violence against women.

Read more: Trail bridge goes red on Thursday

For this reason, Sgt. Mike Wicentowich encourages the community, especially men, to attend a vigil in Trail today to show support for this annual service, which honours the country’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

“As men, I believe we may be historically under-represented at this vigil and I always appreciate more attending to add a stronger voice to the solidarity,” he shared.

“If you are a parent to a young man, please consider bringing him down to participate and learn how to end violence against women,” Wicentowich said.

“We can show him that he can be hero in his community for the rest of his life by committing to stopping violence against women.”

The service will begin at 5 p.m. in the Bridge View Cafe, located on the Esplanade, in the FortisBC building.

The annual vigil comes just days after the Trail detachment released its latest summary of crimes, which shows that the number of reported cases involving domestic violence have increased, compared to the same time period last year.

Statistics provided by the Trail and Greater District RCMP for the third quarter, which is July to September, reveal six files were opened in Trail as opposed to two in 2018.

Total cases over those three months stand at nine compared to five in 2018. This figure takes into account another three reports over the summer, including one in Warfield, one in Rossland, and one in an electoral area of the regional district.

More cases are alarming to police and the community at-large, because one case of domestic violence is one too many.

“It is concerning as we would like to see zero domestic violence,” Wicentowich told the Trail Times. “We take any increase in domestic violence very seriously … The police investigate every incident of domestic violence and send a report to Crown Counsel in every case for charge assessment. Any breach of condition is treated seriously and a report to Crown Counsel is sent in every case.”

He says by employing tools like the Inter-agency Case Assessment Team (ICAT), police are continually working to reduce incidents of domestic violence throughout the Greater Trail district.

“Domestic violence is present in all segments of society and does not know any boundaries like age or status,” Wicentowich explained. “Pro-actively planning with tools like ICAT can prevent violence against women and will benefit the overall health and well being of our women, families, and communities.”

Over time, the local police force has become much better trained in responding to and investigating domestic violence.

Three members recently trained with the established ICAT, and one is dedicated to a committee known as “VAWIR,” which stands for Violence Against Women in Relationships.

Usually an investigator is assigned to a domestic violence case throughout its duration, and will follow up with the victim on a regular basis, as well as monitor conditions like a “no contact” order placed on the suspect.

Interested officers also have access to trauma-informed practices available free of charge to police across the province.

“This type of training helps us better understanding victims going through trauma while providing statements to the police, as well as helping them find justice if it cannot be achieved through the criminal system.” Wicentowich said.

“And I believe this may become mandatory one day for the RCMP.”

Today’s vigil marks the 30th anniversary of a horrific crime that took place in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989, when a man entered the School of Engineering at École Polytechnique and systematically murdered 14 young women.

In 1991, the Parliament of Canada declared a Day of Remembrance and Action to End Violence Against Women.

Because of logistical reasons, the Trail service is taking place the evening before the actual anniversary.

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