Kamloops, British Columbia isn’t the kind of name people here in the United States think of when they think of a surge in crime because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, I don’t think people here in the U.S. think of Kamloops all that often, at least not unless there’s a discussion of cities with funny names or something.
However, as COVID-19 has swept the land, Kamloops is seeing an increase in crime, and it’s being attributed to the shutdown triggered by the virus.
Kamloops city staff indicate that backups in the court system are causing more issues on the street.
Director of community protective services Byron McCorkell points out that because of COVID-19, matters before the courts are being put off and jails are trying to reduce the number of inmates, not add any.
He was asked by council how the city can mitigate concerns.
“We’ve got all our RCMP working hard, our bylaw staff are out. We have new outreach staff walking the streets through funding that we’ve secured through our housing program. We’ve got a committee working on the West Vic side, working and talking with the businesses. We’ve got good neighbor agreements with the housing agreements.”
According to the Kamloops RCMP, there were 73 business break and enters between mid-March and the end of April. That’s compared to 33 in the same six-week period of 2019, which is a 130-per-cent increase.
“The suppressed economic activity is part of it,” mayor Ken Christian says.
“But I think the inaction of the provincial court, in particular, is another part. And I know the chief judge of the BC Provincial Court raised that issue with the Attorney General [Dave Eby] some weeks ago. And I think if we can stumble through having a council meeting and now we’re learning how to do a public hearing electronically, there’s got to be a quicker reaction from the court system.”
Basically, people figure they won’t go to jail if they’re caught, so they act like the law doesn’t even exist. For all practical purposes, it doesn’t. Not if there’s no real enforcement, there isn’t.
Sure, some people will still decline to act illegally because they understand that if you’re caught, you’ll still get punished. It’ll just be much later. They’re able to think of long-term consequences.
However, many others simply don’t or won’t.
As a result, you’re seeing a city like Kamloops “enjoy” an increase in criminal activity they shouldn’t really have to deal with. It’s also potentially why we’ve seen more property crimes here in the United States as well. Plenty of departments made it clear they weren’t going to respond like they had been, which emboldens criminals who simply don’t feel like there’s any risk to them anymore.
To a point, they’re probably right.
Then again, is it any wonder that so many people have flocked to gun stores? Especially people who previously didn’t have a gun? I mean, if criminals are emboldened over this, how long until they start getting emboldened to carry out violent crimes?