The majority of 911 calls to Merritt police during the first three months of 2014 were false, according to the local RCMP detachment’s first quarterly report to city council. Out of 109 of the emergency calls received during that time, 106 were found to be false.
“All 911 calls are fully investigated to determine if somebody is in need of help,” Merritt RCMP Staff Sgt. Sheila White told council when presenting the detachment’s quarterly report at the regular council meeting on May 27.
“There’s a significant amount of manpower that goes into investigating those,” White said.
White told council drug trends in Merritt have not changed much, noting morphine and heroin trafficking appear to be increasing.
“Morphine is what we find being traded for crack-cocaine, and cocaine seems to be the drug of choice for sure,” White told council.
Sgt. Norm Flemming told the Herald that sometimes morphine is sold by those with prescriptions or stolen from people for resale purposes.
He said morphine is typically sold for cash or traded for an equal dollar value of crack cocaine.
The report states the Merritt RCMP officers have continued to notice people from the Lower Mainland who are involved in local drug trafficking. Once identified, police investigations are geared toward charging the suspects or disrupting their drug trafficking activity to encourage them to leave Merritt.
White said police have been dealing with a number of people who come here from the Lower Mainland and are generally known as the “Surrey Boys.”
She said the problem police have with these people is they will set up shop in Merritt for a while, then switch locations and new people will come in.
Theft, break and enter files consistent
Reports of break-ins and thefts were up slightly between January and March of 2014 compared to the same timeframe in 2013.
Between January and March in 2014, there were 12 residential break and enter files compared to 13 in 2013.
There were nine commercial break and enter files this quarter, down four from last year’s 13.
However, there were 13 other break and enter files this year compared to 11 last year.
Police dealt with 17 files for thefts from vehicles in the opening quarter of this year compared with 10 last year.
Ten of the 17 files for 2014 came in March alone.
Flemming said theft from a vehicle is an opportunistic crime, with thieves more often than not attempting to steal money from vehicles.
There were three reports of stolen cars in the first quarter of 2014 and none in the same period from last year.
Assaults up, domestic disputes steady
Assault files have gone up from 39 in the first quarter of 2013 to 44 in the same period in 2014.
Domestic dispute files are steady and remain a problem for the Merritt detachment, White said.
There were 41 domestic dispute files in this year’s opening quarter compared to 42 last year.
White said assaults and domestic disputes are “stable right across the board.”
“That’s one of our huge issues,” she said.
Drunk in public files down
Impaired driving offences continue to keep police busy. A total of 23 drivers had their licences suspended for either 24 hours, three days, seven days or up to 30 days in the first quarter of 2014.
Flemming said that total is consistent with last year’s first quarter.
However, drunk in public files fell by over 40 between last year and this year, with 90 between January and March of 2014 compared to 134 in the same period in 2013.
Regular patrols of the downtown area have resulted in the arrest of intoxicated individuals and the seizure of large quantities of alcohol, the report reads.
“The comparison for the first quarter between 2013 and 2014 is not overly alarming to me,” White said.
In total, general duty officers responded to 1,285 calls for service during the first quarter and Merritt police processed 187 prisoners.
The report reflects a representative sampling of police activity, it states.