City Council meeting the night of Monday, February 5 opened on a somber note.
“This has dealt a huge blow to our community. We’ve lost Cpt. Clayton Murrell. His wife Joan, who was head lifeguard at the pool, is in Kelowna fighting for her life,” began Mayor Lee Pratt before commencing a moment of silence.
S/Sgt Hector Lee also began his RCMP report by addressing the tragedy that has befallen the community:
“Obviously I bring this forth to you with a heavy heart today. I can honestly say that we have a one of a kind relationship with our fire department and that’s due to people like Clayton. He made it very, very easy,” Lee said.
“Our thoughts and our prayers are with Joan for a speedy recovery. Obviously it’s going to a be a long process for her, but we’ll get through this, we always do. So on behalf of the Cranbrook RCMP Detachment personnel we express our condolences to the Cranbrook Fire Department for their loss — our loss.”
Lee discussed statistics from the past year, noting that the homicide file and numerous other complex investigations they undertook as well as the wildfires, made for an especially challenging 2017 for Cranbrook’s RCMP detachment.
Lee said that overall they experienced an increase of five per cent in calls for service between city and rural jurisdictions. He believes this is due to the population growth in Cranbrook and the high amount of turnover in their detachment.
“We’ve had a lot of turnover in this detachment and a lot of people just finding their feet in the past year and things are starting to roll in a better direction that way with the familiarity with the area and with the people around them,” Lee said. “And the understanding that they come to a place where their roll in this community is important.”
There was a 26 per cent increase from last year in the number of person-crime offences which include assaults, assaults causing bodily harm, sexual assaults, uttering threats and other personal-type offences.
Property offences have also seen an increase. While the number of break-and-enters went down 55 per cent from last year, the amount of mischief and petty thefts that have occurred has increased, due to the complex year the RCMP faced, Lee explained.
“We weren’t able to totally focus our efforts in some of these areas that we normally would focus on. That allows certain crime groups to come forward and wreak a little bit of havoc on our city. In the end eventually we were able to latch on to them, but like I said we’ve got some growth, we’ve got some new people, I’m sure you’ve all noticed, there’s a lot of new faces in town, a lot of new people, and not everybody is savoury.”
There was a decrease in the number of drug-related files they’ve undertaken and Lee said that the good news on that front is that the amount of drugs and money they seized surpassed last year’s totals, and he believes they have made a good dent on what has been happening.
Motor vehicle accidents that have taken place in the city saw an increase. However Lee said that one of his goals for last year was to decrease the number of alcohol-related accidents and they have achieved that, with a substantial 63 per cent reduction.
Lee said that in response to the increased accidents he will be increasing enforcement by working with East Kootenay Traffic Services to create a two to three person municipal traffic unit which will take effect at the beginning of their fiscal year, April 1 with added cost to the city as it is just a reallocation of existing resources, combined with additional resources provided by EKTS
“I’m hoping that the increased level of enforcement will help squelch those numbers down when it comes too the number of motor vehicle accidents that we have.”
He added that distracted driving will be a big target for them, as it has surpassed impaired driving as the number one road killer.
Lee also described the positive impact that Mental Health Liaison Officer Cst. Erin Stevenson has had, stating that mental health related calls for service have gone down 16 per cent and a 39 per cent decrease in the amount of apprehensions.