Port Hardy’s newest Mountie introduced himself to council at their regular meeting Oct. 25.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Wes Olsen explained that he moved to Port Hardy from Lake Cowichan on Sept. 17. Olsen has 26 years in the RCMP, 20 of them in Manitoba. He transferred to Vancouver Island in 2010. “I prefer to work in small towns,” Olsen said.
“It’s actually a very nice town. This is an oasis compared to what I was used to in Manitoba.”
Having arrived in the community in September, Olsen said he does not have a feel for the community or the job yet.
One of his first priorities will be to “backfill our member shortage.”
He explained that Port Hardy, which also covers Port Alice, currently has 16 members and he would like to see that grow by two.
“We’re above average for our file count and workload. I’m going to be ambitious and ask for two (officers), but I’ll be happy if I get one.”
The Port Hardy RCMP detachment is also going to be renovated in the new year. The plan is to add on to the front of the building “to give us some much-needed space.”
Olsen said the detachment recently had a management review, and that while he does not have the official report yet, “overall we did very well. I inherited a really good detachment”.
He will share more with council once he receives the official report. The Port Hardy detachment houses an average of 900 prisoners a year “which is lots.”
He explained that Port Hardy serves as an informal remand centre for the North Island, so some of the prisoners in cells are ones waiting for court appearances, etc. “We have some multi-day visitors,” Olsen said.
In order to “get a handle on some of the global issues” in Port Hardy, Olsen has been busy meeting with various agencies in the community.
Olsen then went over the quarterly statistics for the period ending Sept. 30. Compared to the same period in 2015, the total number of files dropped from 1,233 to 1,051.
There was a significant drop from 111 to 87 for intoxicated in public charges, which Olsen credits to the work of the Intensive Case Management team and the proactive work they are doing in the community.
Break and enters to businesses were up to eight from two, however a person was caught and is now in jail, so that number should go down.
Thefts from motor vehicles have dropped from 11 to six with the largest amount of thefts happening at the marina.
Olsen said RCMP had a talk with someone they believed was responsible for these crimes, and since then numbers have gone down.
Olsen says the best way for people to protect belongings is to lock their vehicle doors.
“Most thieves are looking for easy money,” he said. Olsen told council that each detachment has a performance plan and that he will finish using the one that Staff Sgt. Gord Brownridge put into place.
However, Olsen will be asking for council’s thoughts on what they think the detachment should be focusing on and what the priorities for policing should be.
Port Hardy has two First Nations positions and when he arrived neither one was filled. Olsen now has one officer in place “and we will be picking another person once I get more bodies in.”
One thing RCMP will be doing more of is street checks which are “an intelligence tool that we use” which helps solve crime.
“I’m a big proponent of street checks,” he said, and is “very aggressive with curfew checks and street checks.”