November 24, 2015 - 11:30 AM
VERNON - More RCMP boots on the ground seems to be the answer to a recent wave of safety concerns in the downtown core, but mounties say more boots requires more bodies.
Sgt. Kara Triance spoke of the need for an increase of two police officers during a presentation to Vernon City Council Monday, Nov. 23.
“Our visible presence is required downtown, and is desired. (Local businesses) really want to see us down there conducting enforcement, particularly as it pertains to our panhandling bylaws,” Triance said.
The RCMP has already refocused foot patrols from Polson Park and the Green Valley Motel to the downtown core, but is seeking support from the city for two additional officers so the currently vacant downtown enforcement unit can be filled.
“This unit is extremely valuable to us,” Triance said. “The mandate of the downtown enforcement unit is to enhance policing service to the downtown core and other vulnerable crime areas in Vernon.”
The unit provides visual presence downtown and officers on the street are able to collect and pass on information to other RCMP units, Triance said.
“In the past, the downtown enforcement unit has been very successful at getting to know all of our street clientele, and our clientele who are entrenched in the downtown core, keeping in mind and getting to know all of the backgrounds of those individuals,” Triance said.
The detachment has managed to support some of the initiatives of the downtown enforcement unit by borrowing officers from other units, she added.
“I think we have a great downtown. We have a safe downtown. I frequent the downtown with my family. I believe the downtown core is a great place to be,” Triance said. “I’m committed to policing that area and ensuring the rest of our community feels that area is safe to be in. The more people we have using our downtown, the safer it’s going to be.”
An increase of two police officer positions is being considered as part of the city’s budget deliberations, and Mayor Akbal Mund will be supporting the addition.
“Any time you can increase the safety in your community, that’s something I think any resident would champion, and… speaking for myself, I would definitely be supporting this,” Mund said.
The public’s role in reporting incidents was also touched upon by both Triance and the mayor as an important part of the equation.
“As the RCMP said, you’ve got to tell us. If you don’t tell us there’s the one or two aggressive panhandlers downtown, we can’t do anything about it,” Mund said.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015