The stabbing on Baker Street in September 2019 resulted in Nelson’s first attempted murder charges in at least a decade. Photo: Tyler Harper

The stabbing on Baker Street in September 2019 resulted in Nelson’s first attempted murder charges in at least a decade. Photo: Tyler Harper

New stats show complex state of crime in Nelson area

The severity of crime increased, while drug violations dropped

Police in the Nelson area, Salmo and Kaslo have reported the lowest number of drug violations in a decade, according to annual crime data for 2019 released by Statistics Canada.

Nelson Police Department (NPD) says there was 39 incidents of drug violations last year, the lowest in 10 years and a far cry from 2011 and 2013 when the department reported 155 such violations.

NPD Chief Paul Burkart said the drop in violations has coincided with a national move by law enforcement away from possession charges.

“We want to spend more of our time dealing with trafficking and the importation of them rather than dealing with somebody who has an addiction,” said Burkart.

“Taking away their small amount of drugs they are using to feed their addiction is not going to have a positive result on the community.”

The 39 incidents reported by NDP resulted in 30 people facing charges.

Salmo RCMP had 50 drug violation incidents, followed by 13 for Nelson RCMP and just two for Kaslo RCMP.

Those numbers can, however, be deceptive.

Column Chart
Infogram

Understanding crime statistics

The NPD received 965 actual incidents of crimes in 2019, which is about average for the previous decade. But several incidents can be tied to the same event.

When Fiona Coyle stabbed two people in downtown Nelson on Sept. 27, 2019, it was recorded by police as three attempted murder incidents (the first of such type in at least a decade in Nelson).

Nelson’s crime severity index (CSI) score, which is a measurement that includes all Criminal Code violations weighted by seriousness of the offence, rose 20 per cent last year to 87.72 for the municipal limits under NPD jurisdiction.

That score is higher than the national CSI of 79.5, but lower than the provincial mark of 104.4

Nelson RCMP’s CSI meanwhile rose 43 per cent to 29.15, and Salmo RCMP’s jumped 21 per cent to 130.30. Kaslo RCMP reported a 1.8 per cent drop to 64.53.

Those rises, however, may be skewed by a change in data reporting. Stats Canada began defining uttering threats, criminal harassment and forcible confinement as violent crime violations in 2019.

That may account for significant rises of such crimes in Nelson, Salmo and Kaslo, but also in turn increased the CSI of each community.

Copy: Column Chart
Infogram

Clearance rate

The NPD meanwhile appear to be solving cases at a much higher rate than other municipal police forces in B.C.

Clearance rate is a statistic that measures the number of cases resolved, whether by an approved charge (at which point a case is turned over to Crown counsel) or by what Stats Canada defines as cleared otherwise, which is an ending that doesn’t require a trip to court.

The weighted clearance rate (which, like CSI, leans toward serious offences) for NPD was 53.13 in 2019, more than double the provincial rate of 25.34.

NPD also has the highest weighted clearance rate among the 11 municipal forces in B.C.

Burkart said a department’s ability to clear cases can depend on its number of members, but credited NPD’s success with its community engagement.

“We’ve got guys like (downtown beat officer) Shawn Zukowski out there and he works with people and he has great relationships with people,” said Burkart.

“I think that’s like a lot of our members, and they’re able to work in solving some crimes that other communities probably wouldn’t be able to do.”

Copy: Column Chart
Infogram

Sexual assaults, impaired driving

Other categories come with caveats.

Incidents of sexual assaults in Nelson dropped to just 10 in 2019 from a 10-year high of 17 in 2017, and only one person was charged.

Burkart said sexual assaults are difficult to prove, and acknowledged there are likely more assaults in the city than are reported to police.

“Anytime we can encourage more people to report obviously the better,” he said.

“We do educate people as best we can when they come, but the reality is they are difficult cases and quite often the victims end up on the stand on their own and they’re trying to remember details. Of course, it’s their testimony that’s going to get a conviction, and that’s not easy.”

Impaired driving violations also dropped in the city from 104 to 58, but Burkart warned that may be attributed to availability of police to check for drunk drivers, which can fluctuate from year to year.

Nelson RCMP meanwhile reported 57 impaired driving incidents, up from 38 in 2018. Salmo RCMP said it encountered 36 such incidents, which was a 10-year high. Kaslo RCMP also reported 16 incidents.

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Crime

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
212 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

A total of 490 cases remain active; 15 in hospital

Jessica Ogden, who calls herself a water protector, not a protester, has lost an internal police complaint following several interactions with the RCMP and the legal system in 2019. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Kootenay logging blockader loses police complaint, files counterclaim against company

Court actions and police complaints stem from blockades in the Balfour and Argenta areas in 2019

Nelson Amnesty is holding its annual Write for Rights campaign Dec. 12 at the Nelson Public Library. Photo: Submitted
Amnesty International Write for Rights relevant during the pandemic

Nelson Amnesty will host the annual event Dec. 12 at the Nelson Public Library

RNG plant
Construction on ground-breaking RNG plant in Fruitvale set to go in spring 2021

REN Energy partners with Calgary engineering firm for innovative West Kootenay gas plant

Katrine Conroy’s swearing in ceremony. Photo: Kootenay West Katrine Conroy Facebook
Forestry Minister West Kootenay MLA Katrine Conroy talks about her new role

Conroy will also oversee Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Treaty

Seven Deers carved Shinning Raven Woman out of Labradorite harvested from the Canadian Shield. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Sculpture by Indigenous artist to be erected in Grand Forks

Civic leaders have rallied behind the project by Grand Forks’ David Seven Deers

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Most Read