Codiac Regional RCMP 'inundated' by pandemic callers
Police say they've opened about 800 files based on calls about people not following health rules
Codiac Regional RCMP's commanding officer says the force has been 'inundated' with calls by people reporting others not obeying rules to physically distance or to self-isolate after entering the province.
Supt. Tom Critchlow, who commands the force policing Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview, said Codiac RCMP have opened 800 files as a result of the calls.
He said the force increased staff capacity to answer the calls to its non-urgent phone line because of the pandemic. But, he said the calls have been slowing in recent days.
"It's still a hot-button issue for us, but we're dealing with it," Critchlow said.
The province has set up an "information line" to report people believed to be violating the emergency declaration order, a line that's separate from the police numbers.
Critchlow outlined the figures Monday during a Moncton city council meeting held by video conference.
Members of council noted seeing an increased police presence in the community.
Critchlow said more RCMP members are available because the pandemic means no one is away for training or on leave.
He said Codiac has a "large presence" patrolling to check on people and businesses.
We've had no issues, everyone is very co-operative and so I can report that's going quite well.- Tom Critchlow, Codiac RCMP
He also said the force is checking on around 22 people in the three communities who have returned to Canada and must self-isolate because the federal government invoked the Quarantine Act.
That means police open a file and check in on each person to ensure they're complying with self-isolating rules over a two-week period. As well, Critchlow said they check to make sure the people are OK.
"We've had no issues, everyone is very co-operative and so I can report that's going quite well," Critchlow said.
Coun. Paulette Thériault suggested police and the city's communications people do more to say that the measures are to protect public health. She said she's seeing messages on social media about people concerned they're in a "police state."
She asked the RCMP to try to do more to communicate that they are acting to protect people's health.
"We want to be protective, not being the strong-arm of the law - only reacting when we have to," Critchlow said.
As of Monday, the total number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in New Brunswick stood at 118. It was the sixth day within the last 10 days that the province announced no new cases.
Of the 118 people, 98 have recovered.