January 25, 2016 - 2:24 PM
KAMLOOPS - Additional costs, a lack of consultation and fewer boots on the ground are some of the top concerns administrators at the city have regarding police service in Kamloops.
Community Safety Director David Duckworth put forward a memo to the city’s police committee today, Jan. 25, as part of the five-year review of the service agreement between the province and RCMP.
Duckworth’s memo, which was requested by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, featured both provincial concerns and what directly impacts Kamloops taxpayers.
One of the Kamloops-specific issues focused on a lack of consultation between the city and RCMP E-Division headquarters in Surrey.
“The city is concerned with the general lack of consultation and downloading of services and costs without any direct communication with local governments,” the memo states.
An example of that, Duckworth says, is the federal government downloading the cost of DNA analysis services to local municipalities.
"It has a hit on us - about $85,000 the first year and it’s going to go up from there. It’s pretty significant without any heads up,” he says.
Currently the Union of B.C. Municipalities is the voice for all communities with RCMP contracts, but Duckworth says it would be useful to have regular correspondence or communication between the city and E-Division, particularly when it comes to additional costs or important initiatives.
Duckworth says the demand for more officers, which was introduced last year, has not been met. The annual $23 million budget for RCMP services pays for 130 sets of boots on the ground, he says, but the city is not operating with a full complement of officers.
“We asked for 10 new members a year ago and we haven’t got that yet,” Duckworth says.
Kamloops RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller declined to say how many officers are currently working full time hours, but noted four new recruits are headed for the city from Regina’s Depot.
“We need to get a few more officers on the ground,” he says. “We’ve got a little ways to go in terms of getting to that 130 and we’re working with our staffing folks to get there."
Mueller notes the detachment isn’t looking to staff specific areas within the detachment. Mainly Kamloops RCMP is in need of general duty officers. He says the detachment will take as many newly graduated officers as needed.
While Duckworth confirmed the crime rate is decreasing in the city as part of a provincial-wide trend, he notes local pressures remain to have a full staff list at the four detachments in the city.
“When you have fewer staff, they’re expected to do more and that time has implications,” he says.
The extra budget amount reserved for more officers is currently sitting in the city’s RCMP reserve fund.
There are some locals who feel Kamloops needs a municipal police force, Duckworth says, but notes it’s merely a discussion item from time to time — not something administrators are seriously considering.
“It comes with fairly significant increases in cost, but potentially more control,” he says. “The RCMP provide great services for us and the federal government provides 10 per cent of the bill."
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016