While it doesn’t have quite the same movie potential as the Dirty Dozen, Prince Rupert RCMP have a screenplay of their own to work with as they put ten of the city’s most prolific criminals on notice, that they are being watched very carefully.
After examining local crime statistics and trends, the RCMP have come up with a list of ten enfants’ terrible, who warrant special attention and immediate interaction should they return to their anti-social ways.
The Daily News outlined the latest in crime fighting methods with a front page story in Monday’s paper.
POLICE ZERO IN ON CITY’S 10 MOST-WANTED VILLAINS
RCMP decides to give extra attention to the city’s core group of repeat offenders
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, June 30, 2008
Pages one and three
A new team of Prince Rupert RCMP officers have compiled a list of the city’s top 10 prolific offenders and are targetting those individuals in an effort to reduce crime rates in Prince Rupert.
Prolific or ‘repeat’ offenders will the primary objective of the newly formed Crime Reduction Team, comprised of Const. Jane Coffin, Const. Lisa Ramsay and Const. Jordan Forman who will also be studying crime trends and the social problems that contribute to crime. Relying on evidence-based policing, RCMP Crime Reduction Teams are focused on building effective partnerships and improving the RCMP’s accountability to the public they serve.
Pilot projects were originally conducted at five RCMP detachments in British Columbia, where it was discovered that having a core group of officers dedicated to dealing with the individuals responsible for the most crime and consuming the most police resources was an effective manner of policing. The success of those original Crime Reduction Teams has led to their implementation at other detachments including Prince Rupert, where Coffin, Ramsay and Forman have been working as a team for the past month.
Prince Rupert’s top 10 prolific offenders list was compiled after crime trends and the criminal histories of known offenders were analyzed, and those individuals had profiles created and letters sent to them by police, notifying them of their prolific offender status. The profiles indicate any court ordered conditions that these individuals are currently covered by, and any offenders found to be in breach of those court-ordered conditions are arrested and taken before the courts with an extensive summary of their criminal history.
“When these individuals are active, they consume a lot of our time,” said Coffin.
“We could deal with these people every night. Most of them are involved in property crime, the break-and-enters and the shoplifting. Most of them have addiction problems, so their crimes are going towards supporting their addictions.”
As of Friday, six of the 10 identified prolific offenders identified by the Prince Rupert Crime Reduction Team were in jail, most of whom had breached their conditions and had been remanded in custody, awaiting their next appearance in court. In addition to dealing with at least one prolific offender each day, the team also focuses on problem areas hit by mischief and vandalism, which can vary from week to week.
“Our goal is to keep those offenders in custody as long as we can, and we partner with Crown counsel and probation and others in the hope that they will either stop what they are doing, they’ll go to jail, or they’ll move away.” said Coffin.
“If they want to stop and deal with their addictions, through meetings with various groups in the community, we know what’s available and can point them in the right direction. That’s really our main goal, getting them the help they need, but they have to make that choice for themselves,”
Working with partner agencies including the B. C. Corrections Services, Prince Rupert Community Enrichment Society, the Ministry for Children and Families, Mental Health, Northern Health, Youth Probation, the Friendship House and Northwest Band Counseling Services, the Prince Rupert RCMP can assist these individuals in receiving the support they require.
Coffin said the local team hasn’t had any of their targeted offenders ask for help yet, and admits that it’s frustrating for officers to deal with individuals who learn the judicial system and believe their crimes don’t have significant penalties.
“They’ve been in the system long enough to know that they’ll get released, but hopefully with everyone involved we can change their behavior and line of thinking,” said Coffin.
“If you put someone away for two weeks, they’re not going to get any kind of program. You need to give them a longer sentence if they’re going to get any kind of help while they’re in jail.”
Although Coffin says she’s confident in the success of the Crime Reduction Team’s efforts in their initial month of work, it will take some time to evaluate the effectiveness of the program on reducing crime rates in Prince Rupert and possibly rehabilitating some offenders. Since its inception in May 2008, six individuals from the Crime Reduction Team’s top 10 list have been arrested resulting in recommendation for a series of 29 criminal charges including 28 breaches and one weapons-related offence.
“At the end of the day, the community needs to feel safe, and it doesn’t matter what our numbers say,” said Coffin. “If they don’t feel safe, then they don’t think we’re doing our job. So hopefully, in the long-term we can make people feel safer in their own community.