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Traffic incidents, break-and-enters down for RNC during COVID-19 pandemic

Const. James Cadigan of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. — TELEGRAM FILE PHOTO
Const. James Cadigan of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. — TELEGRAM FILE PHOTO

Spokesman says lack of collisions suggest people are taking public health emergency seriously

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

The public health emergency may only be a few weeks old on the northeast Avalon, but local police are already noticing change when it comes to the nature of calls they're tasked to respond to.

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary media relations officer Const. James Cadigan cautioned it is still "too soon to really tune in to any trends," but he did acknowledge police have noticed a reduction in traffic incidents, including accidents and general complaints about suspicious driving.

"That's something we expected," Cadigan said. "That tells us that people are abiding by these regulations for the most part."

With fewer people using their vehicles on the road and more often staying indoors to stifle the spread of the coronavirus, opportunities for criminals to commit break-and-enters at unattended homes are few and far between.

"We've always said that when we talk about residential break and entries … they tend to be crimes of opportunity," Cadigan said. "As you can imagine, that opportunity certainly declines once we have people occupying their residences."

Holyrood RCMP detachment Staff Sgt. Richard Marshall. — SALTWIRE NETWORK FILE PHOTO
Holyrood RCMP detachment Staff Sgt. Richard Marshall. — SALTWIRE NETWORK FILE PHOTO

 

Holyrood RCMP detachment Staff Sgt. Richard Marshall has not noticed much change when it comes to policing his corner of Conception Bay. He said the call volume right now is consistent with what police were handling this time last year.

"Of course, we're being very careful with using the appropriate (personal protective equipment) in dealing with people," he added. "All of our employees are cognizant of that. For example, our front counter is not open. Public access has changed. We have to do a lot of business over the phone or in person from a distance."

Domestic violence

Marshall knows what the public health emergency could mean for people living in abusive relationships. Last month, Iris Kirby House executive director Michelle Greene told The Telegram her organization was bracing for an increased need for shelter services from people experiencing domestic violence. She said research has shown periods of economic instability can lead to an increase in domestic violence incidents.

Marshall cautioned that while his detachment has not noticed an increase in domestic violence calls, it could still very well be an issue in the communities Holyrood RCMP officers serve.

"It's something we're really concerned about, and we want to make sure we encourage people to report any concerns they might have with people experiencing domestic violence," he said.

The RNC is aware the encouragement of people to stay home may enable abusers to cause further harm to their victims, Cadigan said.

"We'd like to send that message to abusers that we're working to detect intimate partner violence and any abuse in our community," he said. The RNC has a dedicated intimate partner violence unit tasked with detecting this behaviour and following up on tips.

"What we'd like to say to victims is that although our facilities have changed their function in terms of access, our facilities are always accessible to victims and it's a safe place for victims."

Cadigan said victims of abuse can call police directly or contact 911 for help.

COVID-19 enforcement

As part of the ongoing public health emergency, the RNC has set up a COVID-19 enforcement unit following up on tips and information about people or businesses not following the emergency rules outlined under the provincial Public Health Protection and Promotion Act.

So far, people have been largely compliant, Cadigan said.

"We implore upon our community to continue to band together," he said. "We have been met with overwhelming support and compliance to this stage, and it seems as though if we continue this effort to prevent the spread of this virus, we could see that our community will come out of this safe and healthy.

"But if you're going to put our community at risk and disregard these regulations, we will enforce the law."

andrew.robinson@thetelegram.com

@CBNAndrew

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