REGINA -- The number of overdoses in Regina continues to increase each month this year, according to a Regina’s Board of Police Commissioners report.

“The trend is not good, in terms of what we are seeing with illicit drugs,” said Chief Evan Bray, with the Regina Police Service (RPS).

There were 176 overdose events in February 2021, compared to 116 in January 2021. During the first two months of this year, there have been 28 apparent overdose deaths in Regina. In that same time period last year, there had been four apparent overdose deaths in Regina. Bray said dealing with this issue will require an ‘all-hands on deck’ effort.

“We do our work from a policing standpoint on enforcement of these large quantities of illicit drugs coming in to our community to be trafficked, but we have to equally invest effort and resource into helping people that have addiction problems,” Bray said.

The numbers were discussed during Tuesday afternoon’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting. Participants also talked about the monthly crime statistics.

Crimes against persons and property show a combined year-to-date decrease of 31.2 per cent in February 2021. Crimes against persons is down by 21.2 per cent compared to February 2020, while crimes against property is down by 33.7 per cent.

“It’s early in the year, but it is a good way to start, knowing that our crime ended last year on a reduced level compared to what we saw in the five-year average,” Bray said.

Crimes against persons include homicide, attempted murder, sexual assaults and crimes, assaults, robbery, kidnapping and criminal harassment. Crimes against property include arson, break and enter, mischief and theft charges.

The meeting also heard a report on the RPS’s Cultural and Community Diversity unit, superficially on how the unit has been impacted by the pandemic, and how community involvement can be expanded going forward in light of the protests following the death of George Floyd in 2020.

“The outreach that they do with all kinds of different community groups and individuals in our community is outstanding,” Bray said. “I think, as importantly, I’m quite proud of the creative ways they’ve found to continue their work even through Covid.”

The board also discussed its Warrant Strategy, which aims to “reduce the number of outstanding warrants and wanted offenders living in our city.”

According to the report, the number of wanted offenders in Regina decreased by 24.1 per cent between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31 2020, while the number of outstanding warrants decreased by 25.25 per cent.

The meeting also heard an annual update on the False Alarm Bylaw, which aims to reduce the number of false alarms requiring police attendance.

At the start of 2019, RPS implemented enhanced call verification, which “requires alarm companies to verify the validity of an intrusion alarm before requesting police attendance.”

Tuesday’s report said this move lead to “significant decreases in 2019 and 2020 in the number of alarm calls for service, false alarms requiring police attendance, cancelled alarm calls, and billable events due to false alarms.”

Chief Evan Bray said this has lead to a significant decrease in the workload for patrol officers