February 13, 2014 - 4:58 AM
VERNON - North Okanagan RCMP are stretched thin for manpower.
This week, Superintendent Reg Burgess told Vernon council the detachment has been struggling with staffing levels for a year and a half. It has consistently coped with between 12-16 soft vacancies.
“Ongoing issues caused by long and short term medical absences and compounded by the delay of incoming transfers is having a negative impact on our operational capacity,” Burgess said.
“It makes it a little tough on enforcement.”
On average, the detachment has also had 7-8 officers on restricted duty status. Particularly, the police dog unit has struggled with the absence of one officer to medical issues and another to parental leave. Fortunately, a dog handler from Kamloops has been able to offer some support.
This year, the detachment area will lose three transferring officers, and six others to retirement. So far, it is gaining six new members across the North Okanagan.
Burgess said injured officers have been coming back to work, assisting where they can and "helping to beat the statistics when it comes to reducing crime.”
Despite the strains on staff, Burgess said the detachment area is below the national average crime rate. While criminal code files spiked in the last few months, the North Okanagan crime rate shrunk by 6.06 per cent over the past year.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014