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The Year in Crime: Police Services chief offers perspectives on local policing challenges

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
Dryden Police Services Chief Doug Palson.
File photo

By Chris Marchand

The Chief of Dryden’s Police Service is offering some perspective on what appears to some to be an unnerving escalation of crime in Dryden over recent months.

Chief Doug Palson says there are several factors at play, among them a concerted effort by the police service to be more diligent in reporting incidence of crime to the public.

Among those disturbing reports include instances of attempted break and enter into homes that were occupied, including one where offender used a machete (Oct. 17), and another who kicked in the front door of a residence on Theil Rd. (Nov. 16). 

On Nov. 30, the police issued a release describing the late night robbery of a local motel on Government St. by a knife-wielding 32-year Oxdrift man.

“When something happens like that (robbery), it’s a bit of a shocker to folks,” said Palson. “Robberies are few and far between. Compared to last year, robberies in general have not risen. We usually only have two to three per year.”

Statistically, Theft, Break and Enter, Mischief, Impaired Driving and Domestic Incidents are up over 2016.

Palson adds the bulk of property crime in the community is being perpetrated by a small number of young offenders who seem to drift in and out of the community. “Crime, in general, goes in spurts and starts,” said Palson. “For example, residential break and enters are up substantially from last year, but it’s really only two or three offenders who are responsible for 90 per cent of those incidents and a lot of that is entering unlocked garages. We went through a rash of those periodically throughout the year.”

Palson says Dryden Police Service members contend with many crimes that are a result of ‘social dysfunction’, that have their roots in poverty, lack of proper housing, addictions and sometimes mental illness. He adds alcohol intoxication and difficult economic circumstances for some are common themes in many domestic incidents.

When it comes to illegal drugs and narcotics in the community, Palson says Dryden faces the same struggles as most communities in the region.

“Compared to other centres, I’m not sure ‘crisis’ is the right word (for the opioid situation), but it’s certainly not going away, or getting any better,” he said. “Recently, we’re seeing a lot more methamphetamine in the community and that’s consistent with a lot of other communities in the region too.”

After a concerted push by local agencies to change the culture around impaired driving in the community over the past year-and-a-half, Palson says statistical increase could be the result of an increased focus on enforcement around the issue.

“It’s a lot less than it was 20 years ago, society has changed a little bit,” said Palson, “What this is all going to mean next year in the context of marijuana, who knows?”  

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