Legal cannabis is the reason Kamloops Mounties reported a gigantic drop in drug investigations in 2018, according to the city’s top cop.
A 21 per cent drop in drug offences is among the statistics included in an annual report submitted this week to city council by RCMP Supt. Syd Lecky.
“The most significant is the change in legalization of marijuana,” Lecky told reporters on Wednesday. “No longer is that an offence.”
Lecky said about 70 per cent of drug calls police received were related to marijuana — ranging from teens smoking in an alley to major busts.
Another factor, Lecky said, was the detachment’s decision in 2018 to focus drug investigations on players higher up the food chain, rather than on street-level dealers and users.
“This past year, we were focused on a higher level,” he said. “That’s the reason for the changes.”
Lecky’s report to council also noted drops in weapons offences and reported home break-and-enters, vehicle thefts and bike thefts. Increasing in 2018 were reported business break-ins and mischief.
According to RCMP data, founded crimes (crimes police believe occurred) against persons were up 13 per cent over the previous year, while property crimes and traffic violations were about even, drug offences were down 30 per cent and other Criminal Code offences dropped 13 per cent.
While weapons offences were down, Lecky said the types of firearms seized by police is indicative of a troubling trend.
“We, as an organization, have very recently obtained carbine rifles. They’re pretty high-powered rifles,” he said. “We’ve seized a number of those in the past year, and guns with silencers on them. There’s no reason to have a silencer on a gun except shooting people without getting heard.”
Lecky said his detachment’s staffing was consistently near 100 per cent during 2018, but he’s still looking for more. The detachment is presently budgeted for 136 officers and Lecky said the number of members working has been above 130 for the last year.
“I will never not look for additional resources because you can always do more. It’s always a balancing act,” he said. “We’re pretty close to full capacity. We’ve maintained really good numbers.”
Lecky acknowledged the number of serious incidents in 2018 took a toll on his detachment, but he said morale is high.
“I can’t take credit for it because I don’t deserve it, but I can tell you the individuals have pulled together,” he said.