Woodstock Police Force shares comprehensive 2023 report with council

by | Mar 6, 2024

Annual update demonstrates force’s ‘consistent growth and development’ as well as troubling statistics

As it responded to a slight increase in service calls in 2023 and a troubling jump in domestic violence, the Woodstock Police Force continues to take giant steps to meet its strategic plan as it strives to deliver effective policing, transparency, and professionalism.

Police Chief Gary Forward presented WPF’s 2023 annual report to the council during the Feb. 13 Council in Committee meeting at the AYR Motor Centre.

The force will make the comprehensive 30-page report available to the public in March.

The report delivers extensive data indicating the force’s successful efforts to meet goals related to its multi-year strategic plan, the number of service calls, including increases and decreases of specific crimes, and an up–to–date staffing breakdown.

“The Woodstock Police Force (WPF) entered its fourth consecutive year of strategic planning methodology in 2023,” the report begins in an executive summary. “Similar to previous years, this approach continues to guide and communicate what we are doing, how we are doing it, and then reporting openly on the results for all to see.”

From a strategic plan perspective, Forward proudly explained that the WPF completed 93 per cent of its 205 objectives. He explained that the objectives addressed enhancement in areas of transparency, visibility, partnerships, accountability, education, and employee wellness.

The report said that to enhance police visibility in the community, it performed 52 beat patrols, 42 public safety road checks, 12 focused holiday spot checks, and 23 uniformed bike patrols.

Data surrounding the force’s calls for service delivered both good news and bad news from a crime perspective. The year’s overall calls for service increased slightly by 1.15 per cent, from 3,266 calls in 2022 to 3,314 in 2023.

While statistics indicate year-to-year drops in property crimes and thefts, both areas witnessed significant increases in 2022 over the two previous years.

Forward explained the accurate measure of crime levels is written in the trend lines over multiple years.

A four-year comparison, for example, saw both property thefts and crimes jump significantly between 2021 and 2022 before following slightly in 2023

One area that has shown a continuous climb over the past four years is intimate partner violence, with 190 cases in 2020 and 192 in 2021. That number jumped significantly to 238 in 2022 before rising dramatically to 310 in 2023.

During a report to the council late in 2023, Forward acknowledged his concern about the growth in intimate partner violence.

“I don’t even know how to put it into words,” he said.

The Woodstock Police Force continues to expand, adding a Street Crime Unit (SCU) in the fall of 2023.

The unit features three plain-clothes officers with “a mandate to investigate mid to high-level crimes and occurrences.”

The SCU’s mandate includes intimate partner violence, along with new investigative resources in areas of crimes against persons, property crimes, fraud and in-custody matters. Forward explained the SCU allows uniformed forces to maintain a higher profile in its coverage area.

Forward explained that the SCU also supports the Integrated Enforcement Unit, which partners with the West District RCMP and other New Brunswick police forces to combat drug, firearm, and other major crimes.

The annual report indicates a 20 per cent increase in calls related to drugs and weapons over the past year.

Forward praised Woodstock Police Force’s strong working relationship with the Woodstock RCMP. The WPF patrols Woodstock’s Ward 4, comprising the former town limits, while the RCMP patrols all other wards.

The annual report also indicated high morale within the municipal police force. A ten-point questionnaire to staff resulted in nine responses showing a 97 to 100 per cent positive rating. The low mark was 92 per cent in answer to a question on how police staff rated the organization’s preparation towards the future of policing in Woodstock and beyond.

For road conditions, click the map

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have successfully subscribed! A confirmation email has been sent to your email account. To complete your subscription, open the email and click on the confirmation link. (If you can't find it in your inbox, try your junk and spam folders.) If you'd like to receive our updates more than once a week, please click the "Manage your subscription" link at the bottom of your Newsletter.