November 07, 2014 - 1:08 PM
PENTICTON - The City and RCMP are actively considering implementation of recommendations made by a jury following a coroner’s inquest into the death of 30-year-old Steven J. Scott who died in police custody two years ago.
The RCMP have already implemented some changes after Scott’s death that the jury also recommended be made. One suggestion was to hire additional cell guards, and while it would cost roughly $42,000 plus benefits per full-time guard, the watch commander now has the authority to call in backup guards depending on the number and type of prisoners, Hewco says.
“They all make sense to me,” he says. But they are recommendations; the RCMP is not required to make any of the suggested changes, he says.
“We have to be mindful that any recommendation made could potentially impact on all RCMP resources in B.C. and may require additional significant training, infrastructure and finances,” he says.
The Penticton detachment consists of 45 sworn officers and 22 support staff, including guards. Provincially-funded officers who work in the rural areas surrounding Penticton also work out of the detachment and can sometimes lend a hand, however their official duties do not include working with the Penticton detachment.
The City funds 70 per cent of the costs for RCMP and support staff, and the federal government pays the remaining 30 per cent. In 2013, the City spent more than $13.7 million on protective services, including the RCMP and fire department.
While city staff say the need for more police manpower has not come up in recent months, it is a topic of discussion every budget cycle. Hewco is required to present a budget to the city when budget talks start in December.
Hewco says the Criminal Operations Branch will review and research the jury’s recommendations, provide a written response to the coroner and discuss options with the city. Likewise, the city is open to updating policy and procedures the RCMP have after reviewing the recommendations, says Annette Antoniak, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014