On Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. the RCMP was alerted by a business that a male suspect had taken a Helly Hansen jacket valued at $750. The police attended to discover that the male had fled, though some of the people he was with were still in the area. The police tailed the group to the day skier lots, and stopped a vehicle. A male matching the thief's description was found in the back seat, and had the jacket on his lap. A search of the vehicle turned up an additional 15 jackets, all of which are believed to have been stolen. The police are matching up the tags with stores.
The suspect, a 21-year-old from Vancouver, was released on an undertaking and will appear in court in late December.
During the investigation, the RCMP discovered that one of the men in the group, a 20-year-old from New Westminster, was in breach of a conditional sentence order. He gave a false name to police and had allegedly been drinking. He will appear in court and was also given a municipal ticket for obstruction after providing a false name.
Occupants of vehicle safe in In-SHUCK-ch washout
RCMP in Pemberton had a helicopter ready to assist the occupants of a vehicle that were caught in a wash-out at the 55-kilometre marker on the In-SHUCK-ch Forest Service Road on Nov. 27. The incident occurred at 10:35 a.m. but emergency services were unable to assist as a result of another washout at kilometre-43 closer to Pemberton.
The police stayed in contact with First Nations, and were informed that the man and his passenger were not injured and that people living in the area were pulling out their car.
The Lizzy Bay Logging Company has been working to repair the road since the washouts, and in the meantime the RCMP and emergency services are prepared to provide emergency services to the communities by helicopter.
Impaired driving still an issue
Despite some tough new impaired driving laws implemented in 2010, the Whistler RCMP is still regularly catching drivers over the limit. From Nov. 22 to Nov. 29, there were three Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRPs) — two handed down to drivers who tested over 0.08 per cent blood alcohol content and one to a driver who refused to provide a sample. One individual also received a 24-hour suspension for drugs.
According to Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair of the Whistler RCMP, the number of cases is going up. From Oct. 1 2008 to Sept. 30, 2009 they had 79 reports of impaired drivers, which includes calls and arrests. From Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010 they had 117 reports, with no explanation why they would be higher.
The new laws went into effect on Sept. 20, 2010, and between Oct. 1, 2010 and Sept. 30, 2011 the RCMP logged 43 reports, handed down 71 IRPs for fails and 66 IRPs for "warns" — between 0.06 and 0.08 per cent blood alcohol content.
Part of the reason for the increase may be enforcement. In the previous system a suspect would have to be brought back to the police detachment for a breathalyzer and then charged by officers, which was a time-consuming process. With the new process the police can issue the IRP from the side of the road and continue working, sometimes catching several drivers at the same road stop. "It's takes less time, so we have a higher amount of man-hours for taking more impaired drivers off the road," said Staff Sgt LeCLair.
He added that road stops will be increasing with the holiday season.
Anecdotally, Sgt. LeClair does believe people are changing their habits.
"What we're hearing from community members is more awareness on decision-making in relation to driving their vehicles and having anything to drink," he said. "If they're going to a dinner party they have their friends pick them up and they take a cab home, they're taking cabs and public transit, they have designated drivers. We've seen a reduction in fatalities through the province as a result of the legislation, and it's very effective."
RCMP officer awarded for bravery
On Nov. 17 the RCMP presented an Award for Valour to Constable Dustin Kerr for his actions on Feb. 4, 2009.
According to the RCMP, Kerr — who was working in Pemberton with the RCMP and tribal police — was driving along the road when he observed a vehicle drive into the Gates River. The officer waded into the chest-deep water to free the female driver and her five-year-old son. The mother was later charged with impaired driving.
Kerr has been reassigned to another detachment, but served in the area for four years.