KAMLOOPS - A decrease in duties for auxiliary RCMP offers could lead to higher costs for the city.
City councillors and staff recently discussed the RCMP decision to cut back on what auxiliary police will be able to do.
Coun. Arjun Singh says he’s concerned about the effects of the new rules. The 2015 community safety report shows auxiliary police volunteering 6,500 hours of work in a variety of duties, from community events to bike patrols to post-Blazers game traffic control.
The RCMP are considering changes to the role auxiliary police play following safety concerns after an auxiliary officer was shot in Alberta. Singh says he understands the concerns, but notes reaction needs to be balanced.
“Sometimes what happens is when bad things happen the response is overblown,” he says, noting he believes that type of reaction may cost the city in cash and volunteer hours. “My concern is our auxiliary police program performs a lot of useful services locally. With these changes, would we have to find some other people to do these services?”
He says the city could also see increased costs if more bylaw or police officers are required.
Community Safety Director David Duckworth says the costs to the city are not the only issue that could come of more regulation to the auxiliary program. While he’s uncertain what restrictions will be in place, it’s likely to make it more difficult to recruit volunteers to a program the city finds useful.
The program requires 160 hours annually spent on auxiliary work, and he’s not sure people will see the duties they’re allowed to do as worth their time.
“It’s getting more difficult to recruit volunteers for our municipal programs,” Duckworth says. “This just adds in one extra thing that makes it more difficult to recruit volunteers.”
It may also impact younger people looking to pursue a career in law enforcement, because auxiliary work is a good work experience leading to that type of career, he says.
In a recent council meeting Singh suggested a letter to the RCMP, possibly from the Union of B.C. Municipalities. Because the RCMP haven’t finalized regulations and he hasn’t spoken to the local police detachment yet, Singh says a letter isn’t happening immediately.
“When we have some police committee meetings we’ll be able to explore this further,” Singh says.
Duckworth says the issue will be brought back to council when the city knows more about what the RCMP plans to do.
“There’s probably more unknowns than knowns right now,” he says. “We’ll monitor it and we’ll take it back to council as we know the full magnitude of the impact.”
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