Penticton police officers are speaking out after seeing a sharp increase in drugs and firearms offences in the city since the start of the year.
Many suspects are also taking risks to avoid arrest causing an unsafe environment for both officers and the public, according to Penticton RCMP.
RCMP Const. James Grandy said while it’s unusual for the police to release such detailed reports of their interactions, he thinks it’s important the public knows what they are dealing with.
“As a result of several serious incidents occurring in January alone, we want to educate the public about what their local front-line officers are having to handle, and why sometimes we’re unable to respond in a timely fashion to more routine investigations,” said Grandy. “It’s not routine for us to provide summaries of files on a regular basis. However, in this case, given the severity of many of these incidents, we believe it’s important the public is aware.”
The following excerpts are examples of police encounters within a two week period in January:
Patrols yield drugs
A Penticton officer conducted a vehicle stop Jan. 18 after observing what appeared to be a drug transaction. The officer conducted an investigation and arrested the sole occupant of the vehicle. A search recovered suspected fentanyl, methamphetamine, MDMA, and a quantity of cash.
Suspects flee, use dog as weapon
Penticton officers responded to a report of a home invasion Jan. 24. Officers located the suspect vehicle which was confirmed as being stolen. A traffic stop was attempted; however, the vehicle stopped for a moment before speeding away. The vehicle was located in the south end of Penticton unoccupied.
Police later located the suspects. The suspects attempted to turn their dog on one of the officers, and only one of the suspects was arrested. A search of the vehicle located significant amounts of cannabis, meth and cash. One officer was injured during the incident.
Multiple assaults, drugs and ammunition seized
On Jan. 24 officers in Penticton responded to a report of a disturbance on Main Street. They determined that one person had been assaulted with bear spray and others had been physically assaulted. All parties were uncooperative with the police investigation, however officers searched the area and located an abandoned jacket containing suspected heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and ammunition for a .22 calibre firearm.
Fled from officers in stolen vehicle
Also on Jan. 24, a Penticton officer conducting patrols in the downtown core observed a vehicle travelling at nearly 100 km/h. The driver attempted to evade police and then subsequently lost control and crashed. Officers combed the area and were able to locate a male suspect by following his footprints in the fresh snow. A 33-year-old Penticton resident was taken into custody. The investigation determined the vehicle was stolen, and the man was breaching his court imposed conditions.
Drugs and handgun seized
On Jan. 29 officers received a report of a suspicious vehicle in the downtown core of Penticton. After pulling the vehicle over, police determined the two occupants were in possession of controlled substances and both were arrested. A search incidental to the arrest located what police suspect to be fentanyl, methamphetamine, magic mushrooms, and a .38 Special handgun. The two men arrested are well known to police.
Causing a disturbance, weapons possession
Also on Jan. 29, Penticton officers responded to a disturbance, and located a young man that appeared to be under the influence of illicit drugs. The man was arrested for causing a disturbance, and a search involved with his arrest located three firearms, a club with nails, and suspected methamphetamine.
Passed out in vehicle with shotgun
On Feb. 1 an officer was conducting patrols in the West Bench area of Penticton. He noticed a car with a male passenger sleeping behind the wheel. The officer believed the vehicle was the same vehicle that had fled from members previously.
The officer requested back-up before approaching the man. As they approached, the man woke, refused to comply with officers, started the vehicle and reversed into a police vehicle.
The officers were able to turn the vehicle off, and remove him from the car, as he attempted to escape. As the vehicle was quickly reversing, one of the officers injured his arm. What the officer’s didn’t realize until later, was a loaded shotgun had been laying next to the man.
“The above incidents should demonstrate to the public the daily proactive policing being carried out by our officers,” said Grandy. “Our officers know what to look for, and when they see something that doesn’t look right, they take action, which often results in significant seizures of drugs and weapons off our streets.”
For each of these cases, reports have been submitted to the BC Prosecution Service for their consideration of charges ranging from trafficking in controlled substances, weapons and firearms possession, flight from, and assault of peace officers.
Anyone with information about crimes in the community are encouraged to contact their local RCMP detachment; or, if they wish to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.