Pubdate: Sat, 03 Oct 2015
Source: Penticton Herald (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Andrea Peacock
Page: A3


Kelowna police chief insists city's drug problems no worse than in
anywhere else in Canada

Despite Kelowna having the highest rate of drug violations per capita
in Canada in 2014, RCMP say its drug problems are no worse than any
other city's. "The more drug enforcement that a police force conducts,
the higher the rate is going to be," said Supt. Nick Romanchuk of the
Kelowna RCMP.

"I could flip the switch and have no drug enforcement and we'd have
the lowest rate. I could reduce the stats easily, but that would be

According to Statistics Canada, Kelowna recorded 453 marijuana
possession charges per 100,000 people in 2014, 119 cocaine possession
charges and 34 heroin possession charges.

The Canadian average was 161 charges for marijuana possession, 21 for
cocaine possession and three for heroin possession.

Total drug violations per 100,000 people in 2014 totalled 828 in

The Canadian city with the second highest total number of drug
violations was Ottawa, with 482.

Thunder Bay, Ont., had the lowest number of drug violations -

The Canadian average for total drug violations was

Romanchuk emphasized that just because Kelowna is on top does not mean
the drug problem here is any worse than in other cities across Canada.

"We use drug enforcement as part of a strategy to reduce crime, and
I'm convinced that it's working," he said.

Statistics vary across Canada because every community has its own
policing strategy, said Romanchuk.

"It's something that right now works for us, and it may not work for
another community."

He said Kelowna RCMP focus on targeting certain offenders.

"This isn't about targeting the recreational marijuana user. This is
about targeting criminals," he said. "It's about targeting the people
in the community who are causing the most harm in the community, such
as prolific offenders who frequent our crime hot spots. Drug
enforcement is a tool to deal with those individuals."

Romanchuk said he doesn't think being named number one on the drug
crime list gives Kelowna a bad name at all.

"This is strictly a result of good, solid police work, and the public
can rest assured the police is working hard."

Kelowna's marijuana possession charges were down slightly in 2014
after being on the rise since 2010.

Cocaine possession was also down in 2014, while heroin charges have
continued to rise since 2010.
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