City of Quesnel council officially introduce Darren Dodge as the new Staff Sgt. of the Quesnel RCMP during a virtual council meeting on Tuesday, June 17.
“It is my pleasure to finally announce, even though Canada has not finally announced, the Prime Minister hasn’t actually blessed and sanctioned, that Darren Dodge is our new Staff Sergeant,” said Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson.
Mayor Simpson said that although it has taken some time for the successor to the Staff Sergeant position to be formally announced that he, council and many members of the community were already aware of the appointment and the hard work being done by Staff Sgt. Dodge.
Staff Sgt. Dodge took some time during council meeting to discuss four main strategic priorities the Quesnel RCMP have and will continue to be focusing on this year, accountability and good governance, crime reduction with an aim to reducing property crime, enhancing public safety with an eye towards traffic enforcement and organizational excellence.
Staff Sgt. Dodge explained that ensuring Quesnel RCMP’s priorities reflected those of their community partners was a chief concern.
“Accountability and good governance, what we mean by that is we will insure that our priorities are in alignment with all of our partners the City of Quesnel, the district, the four First Nations and our partner agencies in the community,” Staff Sgt. Dodge said. “Secondly, we will continue to participate in these partnerships that continue to contribute to the greater good for all of the citizens of Quesnel, the inter-agency committee we belong to, the Community Caring for People with Addictions committee or its offshoot whatever that turns out to be as well the good neighbour agreements that we are partners with the City and with Seasons House and were partners with the City and Elliot Street [Supportive Housing] when that starts as well.”
Regarding the issue of property crime in the community, Staff Sgt. Dodge highlighted the work of the new Crime Reduction Unit in Quesnel and noted that moving forward the Quesnel RCMP will be partnering with the Cariboo Regional Crime Reduction Unit out of Williams Lake.
“The second issue and one that comes up at every meeting I am at is crime reduction with an eye to reducing property crime,” said Staff Sgt. Dodge. “The City gifted us two extra positions, funding for two people last fall and we told the City when we received the funding that instead of throwing them into the pool of investigators that we have we would specifically designate them to full-time crime reduction positions. How that unit works is they identify prolific offenders in the community and they monitor them as per the provincial guidelines. We actually approach these prolific offenders, we tell them they have been identified as prolific offenders, we offer to work with them so that they can stop to their life of crime and if they choose not to they are a priority for us.
Staff Sgt. Dodge gave council an example of how effective the Crime Reduction Unit can be, citing recent event in Quesnel.
“To give you an idea of what crime reduction and what having full time crime reduction members can do for this community, last week we had a high profile offender in town, on Wednesday the Crime Reduction Unit came to work decided to target that person because we had information he was breaching his conditions,” said Staff Sgt. Dodge. Before noon they had arrested the person, he was released the next day in court and knowing full well that he would breach his conditions again they targeted him again Friday morning, arrested him again and now he is currently being held in the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre.”
Staff Sgt. Dodge told council that traffic enforcement will continue to be a point of focus for the Quesnel RCMP and that impaired driving is an ongoing issue in the community.
“The third issue, and another thing that gets brought up to me in meetings all the time is traffic enforcement,” said Staff Sgt. Dodge. “We as management will ensure that all of our members, we have quite a few new members, are fully trained in all equipment so they can perform all the ranges of traffic enforcement that they are required to do. Impaired driving continues to be a priority in this community and others there has been a decrease but it is still a concern for us and in partnership with North District Traffic Services which has six members in this town, we will work with them throughout the year on various projects in high traffic areas, problem intersections and school zones.”
The final strategic priority identified by Staff Sgt. Dodge was “organizational excellence” which he explained will lead to more charges approved and convictions in court.
“Fourth and finally, a strategic priority we have decided to concentrate on this year as well is called organizational excellence and that is in regards to quality of investigations,” said Staff Sgt. Dodge. “Through enhanced supervision and mentorship, investigations will be reviewed and assessed on a regular basis to insure that we are continuing to produce quality work which will lead to more reports to crown council, more charges approved and more convictions in court. A particular emphasis this year will be on drug investigations. Drug investigations can be quite complicated and we are very fortunate that we have some members that are very experienced with that and we will be relying on them as we move forward to mentor our newer members.”
Staff Sgt. Dodge also wanted to highlight the effectiveness of the Mobile Crisis Intervention Team which was created in the spring of 2019.
“The Mobile Crisis Intervention Team consists of one police officer partnered with a psychiatric nurse and they go on the street either once or twice a week for four hours and they seek out those clients that are causing the police or Northern Health high levels of service,” said Staff Sgt. Dodge. “Since April of 2019 they have actually made 259 street contacts, they have actually made 167 home visits and they’ve made 177 referrals for everything from medical appointments, housing, food security, and drug treatment and this is all done between four to eight hours a week for our high value clients, the people that cost a lot of time and resources — so we think its been a great success.”
Staff Sgt. Dodge also identified that mental health issues are a growing concern in the Quesnel community.
“In the year 2019 we have 719 calls for service involving mental health issues in this town, that worked out to six per cent of all of our calls for service last year had some element of mental health involved,” said Staff Sgt. Dodge. “This year alone, up until May 31 of this year we’ve already had 504 calls for service involving mental health, that’s trending right now at 12 per cent of our calls for service. So we are partnering with Mental health Northern Health the Quest Unit and thorough the year we also have community care conferences and that is where we meet with the physician of specific people and their mental health worker and we try to come up with some sort of solution to why these people are falling through the cracks.”
Before Staff Sgt. Dodge exited the council meeting Councillor Scott Elliott and others shared their excitement for his appointment and appreciation of the hard work being done by the Quesnel RCMP.
“A message from me and I think so many others out there is thank you to you and all of the members for everything that you are doing to keep our community safe,” said Elliott. “It’s a crazy time in this world right now there’s a lot of push back on different things and I’m not going to get involved with right now but the job you do is extremely important. When something goes down and the rest of us are running away you guys and gals are going right in there and it’s so appreciated”