The Estevan Police Service responded to a record number of incidents in 2012, and set a new mark for the number of prisoners, but Chief Del Block is pleased to see that drug-related arrested decreased last year.
According to numbers recently released by Block, the police service had 8,248 actual violations to respond to last year. There were another 253 unfounded incidents, for a total number of 8,501 reported infractions.
Police laid 3,429 charges as a result of those violations.
They had 7,406 actual violations in 2011, which was 842 fewer than 2012.
The police also had 892 prisoners in 2012, which was a jump of 199 from the 693 that they had in 2011.
"If you would have told me that Estevan Police Service would ever be arresting upwards of 900 prisoners in a year, I wouldn't have believed it," Block said.
As recently as 2006, there were only 271 prisoners.
The number of prisoners is a reflection of a growing city, but also attitudes towards alcohol.
"A lot of those numbers are people who have simply been lodged for drunkenness, and they're held until sober," said Block. "No charges are laid other than a provincial statute ticket for being intoxicated in a public place."
Impaired driving continues to be a concern, Block said. There were 194 impaired driving offences last year, which was up from 159 the year before.
Included in that total were 87 charges for impaired operation of a motor vehicle, 73 for driving while over .08, and nine for drug impairment.
Those numbers are "extremely high" for a city the size of Estevan, he said.
"I'm not sure why people aren't getting the message," said Block. "There's continual education on television and in ads, and obviously increased enforcement is needed."
Programs such as Report Impaired Drivers (RID) have helped the police locate and apprehend impaired drivers, Block said. Police have made arrests through phone calls they have received through RID. SGI also provides funding to the police to target impaired drivers and high-risk traffic offenders.
Other figures that caught Block's attention were:
*Officers dealt with 2,326 provincial traffic offences, including 552 speeding violations, 399 seatbelt infractions and 249 intersection offences. The total number of provincial traffic offences in 2011 was 1,753.
*Police had 1,164 non-traffic provincial statute violations, including 493 liquor act infractions, 164 summary conviction act offences, 129 violations of the 911 act, 93 under the Fire Prevention Act, 88 under the Family Relations Act, and 81 under the liquor act for other activities.
*There were 437 "Other Criminal Code" violations, compared with 283 in 2011. There were 85 instances of somebody failing to comply with the conditions of an undertaking, 77 for failing to comply or appear before an officer, 25 for failing to comply with an undertaking, 86 for breaching the peace, 57 for failing to attend court, 51 for failing to comply with a probation officer, 25 for resisting arrest or obstructing a peace officers, and 13 for causing a disturbance.
But Block was encouraged with the number of drug-related offences. There were 50 trafficking charges and 73 possession charges laid last year, compared with 95 for trafficking and 79 for possession in 2011.
"I'm hoping – I think it's too early to say – but that the focus of the past four on drugs is starting to pay some dividends," said Block. "I'm hoping that's the case, but … I think we'll have to wait another year, and see where we're at a year from now."
Forty of the trafficking charges were for cocaine, and four more were for possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine. Fifty-eight of the 73 possession charges were for having 30 grams or less of cannabis marijuana. Eleven more were for cocaine.
The EPS now has a full compliment of 25 officers, including four new members. The influx of officers allows the police to do more to patrol the city, he said, and it gives them flexibility to direct officers to areas of focus, such as traffic. Block said as many as three people will be dedicated to traffic this year.
"In 2013, you will see that drug enforcement and drug investigation are still going to remain a focus," said Block. "And traffic and traffic enforcement are going to become a focus in 2013."