Cybercrime is on the increase in the Heritage city, according to the city’s top cop, and U.S.-style violence and confrontation might be on the way.
Donovan Fisher, the Nelson Police Department’s chief constable, said the NPD’s general investigations section (GIS) is more in demand lately as the level of cybercrime in Nelson has increased.
He recently told city council that online and cellular crime is another area that police continue to see increased pressure on and a demand to deal with.
“As the level of investigations and the crime becomes more complex, there is need to have a focused investigative team that has knowledge and the ability to have that skill set to not only investigate it but put a very high level of product disclosure in to the Crown,” for prosecution, he said.
Fisher explained that there are instances where technology is used as an instrument to perpetrate crimes, and then there are other cases where technology is the target of crimes, such as attacks on government agencies and hospitals.
“Unfortunately that is becoming more and more of an issue and is becoming a greater strain on police departments across the country to try and manage and mitigate those things,” he said.
Coun. Keith Page said the city has been seeing a lot broader scope of crime with the online environment creating opportunities for various characters across the globe to play an active role in local crime.
Through his work he has witnessed numerous incidents where attempts are being made to grift people of their money, often through the voice of a respected institution.
“We see a continual narrative campaign to undermine the trust in our institutions … and that ongoing erosion creates additional challenges for our community to understand who they can go to for help and how to best approach and deal with the challenges that they face on a day-to-day basis as they grapple with what is not true,” he said.
“So, how do we, as a community, build back institutional trust in ourselves and the people around us in our community?”
Fisher did not have a simple answer for it.
“It’s very challenging and I certainly don’t think there is a quick fix solution to it and one answer solution to it, it’s something we need to continue to play the long game at and continue to show that level of measured approach and try to keep some rapport from a policing perspective,” he said.
The U.S. has seen a 30 per cent increase in murders and violent crime last year, said Coun. Rik Logtenberg, the largest increase in history. And the analysis has been showing that it is related to the pandemic, as well as the unrest around the murder of George Floyd.
“Is that unique to the U.S.? Have we seen anything like that in Canada? And, if it’s not possible, are we just lagging behind the U.S.?” he asked Fisher.
“I’ve certainly seen those tensions increase … across the country there has certainly been an increase in domestic violence and those type of incidents,” Fisher replied.
Confinement and people expected to stay home, spending more time in their homes and with the same people consistently seems to exacerbate those already bad situations, he added.
Statistics would support it, but Fisher also has personally seen the level of confrontation with police rise.
“Certainly, we’ve experienced it even here in Nelson and, specifically in the last couple of weeks, some situations have come up where police are openly challenged,” he said.
It’s a small percentage of people, but some people want to challenge the health orders, openly challenge some of the Charter of Rights issues around protest and push their agenda, Fisher related.
“(A)nd their feeling is that, unfortunately, their rights to do and say what they want trump everybody else’s rights to do and say what they want and it certainly puts the police in an awkward position,” he said.
“Some people aren’t there to get their point across, they are looking for a confrontation.”
There has been a significant increase in that type of behaviour and it translates into other areas of the community, Fisher noted.
“I think your point of things seem to be lagging and we might see some increased violence, I think the potential is certainly there,” he said.