The Moose Jaw Police Service predicted that domestic violence incidents would increase due to the stresses of the pandemic, and with 2020 now over, the full data backs up the prognostication.
Police responded to 170 incidents of domestic abuse last year, an increase from 107 such incidents — or 58.9 per cent — in 2019, data shows.
“We had predicted that would happen. This is something that other police agencies across the country are seeing and we are doing everything we can to get ahead of that,” said Police Chief Rick Bourassa. “But again, so many of those incidents happen behind closed doors. When they do get reported to us, we do take action.”
Bourassa presented the 2020 crime statistics during the Board of Police Commissioners’ meeting on Jan. 12 at Grant Hall. During the meeting, the board’s five commissioners — Mayor Fraser Tolmie, councillors Doug Blanc and Dawn Luhning, and residents Mary Lee Booth and Darrell Markin — took their oaths as members.
Crimes against people
According to the data, there were 547 total incidents of crimes against the person last year, which was an increase from 521 incidents in 2019.
Bourassa singled out assault with a weapon/cause bodily harm for attention. This area — including the severity of the violence — has been increasing during the past few years, although this is not unique to Moose Jaw since it’s happening everywhere, he said. Still, the police service continues to track it.
“There’s not a lot we can do to prevent those because they happen spontaneously,” he continued. “However, we do respond, and we do take the action that we can … . I suspect we will continue to see that increase (due to the pandemic).”
Other data for crimes against the person for 2020 vs. 2019 show:
- Homicide: 1 / 1
- Attempted murder: 3 / 3
- Total assaults (sexual, common, aggravated, etc.): 273 / 312
- Robbery: 9 / 12
- Threats: 91 / 86
Crimes against property
Crimes against property saw a slight decrease last year to 1,262 incidents from 1,267 events in 2019. This area includes break and enters, thefts, arson and mischief.
While the overall category is down, break-ins into business premises saw a jump to 60 incidents last year compared to 35 in 2019, an increase of 71.4 per cent.
Many of these business break-ins occurred to storage containers, sheds and bays at the businesses, explained Supt. Devon Olynyk. Since there are roughly 3,000 such storage bays and containers in Moose Jaw, break-ins to these buildings contribute to the rise in crime stats.
“That skews the results somewhat — not that it’s any less important to whether a storage bay is insecure or not,” he added. “It’s certainly equal to every other thing, but a lot of those were storage bays that were entered.”
Another area of concern was arsons, which jumped to 16 incidents last year from five in 2019, said Bourassa. While an increase of 11 incidents seems small, he pointed out they are still serious events. Most of the fires were set to garbage bins and not to physical buildings.
Bourassa jokingly added that these dumpster fires occurred during a dumpster-fire of a year.
Other data for crimes against property in 2020 vs. 2019 show:
- Total break-ins: 283 / 241
- Theft of vehicle: 72 / 87
- Theft over $5,000: 11 / 26
- Theft under $5,000: 546 / 649
- Mischief over $5,000: 334 / 259
Other crimes and violations
Data for other crimes and violations in 2020 vs. 2019 show:
- Impaired driving: 90 / 98
- Failing to comply with court order: 805 / 819
- Vehicle accidents over $1,000: 206 / 258
- Provincial liquor infractions: 135 / 129
- Drugs (cocaine, cannabis, meth, other drugs): 40 / 56
The Moose Jaw Police Service responded to 15,211 total calls last year, compared to 15,626 calls in 2019. This represents a decrease of 2.7 per cent.