Penticton’s overworked RCMP detachment may be getting some relief next year.
Additional staff for the detachment are being considered for the City of Penticton’s 2021 budget.
Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki proposed the budget be expanded to account for hiring two additional RCMP officers, and two additional bylaw officers, in the Sept. 1 regular council meeting. In addition, he also wants to expand the hours that bylaw officers work.
Currently bylaw officers work until 10 p.m., but Vassilaki proposed their shifts instead end at 2 a.m. He also proposed they work Sunday, so that they have coverage seven days a week.
“Crime doesn’t stop at 10 o’clock. That’s when it gets worse. After 10, all complaints go to the RCMP, and we don’t have enough RCMP members to look after all that,” Vassilaki said.
It was reported by The Western News in April that the Penticton detachment of the RCMP would require an additional 42 officers to reduce the case-load each individual officer currently handles down to meet the provincial average.
The Penticton detachment is considered one of the busiest RCMP detachments in the province. According to 2018 Municipal Police Statistics, Penticton had a case load overage of 113 per officer, significantly higher than any other city of 15,000 population and over.
The proposed increase in bylaw officers and hours is aimed to reduce the RCMP’s workload, so that they can focus on more important issues. The proposal is also part of what Vassilaki considers a promise he made to the community when ran for mayor.
“My number one priority is crime and safety in the community. That was my main purpose for running,” he said.
Now city staff are in the process of calculating how much the proposal would cost, as well as how it would be funded.
With the additional information from the city, the issue will go back in front of council on Oct. 6 for a decision as to whether the city will go forward with the proposal.
If passed on Oct. 6, the additional bylaw officers would be on the street by the end of the year, while the process for bringing additional RCMP members would begin for 2021.
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