It is great to hear the Kamloops RCMP is holding two public forums, on April 19 at MacArthur Island and April 21 at McGowan Park. The forums will gather feedback on the police’s strategic priorities. More dialogue between the police and the public is a good thing.
The RCMP is not like a municipal force. With a police force like the Vancouver Police Department, the municipality has direction into the force’s priorities through City Council representatives and a police board. In the case of the Kamloops RCMP, even though the City funds the force, it does not have control of RCMP’s activity in the city. Council and the public can give input and feedback, but it is the RCMP who has final say into the priorities. The public forums on April 19 and 21 are one of the few ways the public can give feedback on how the police operate in Kamloops.
Some of the past priorities of the Kamloops RCMP included domestic violence, criminal gangs and aboriginal policing. The funding of police officers dedicated to domesticate violence is a direct result of the Kamloops RCMP making it a priority to focus on lessening domestic violence in our city.
Top of my list will be improving communications from the Kamloops RCMP. One only needs to look at Twitter to see that other RCMP detachments share information more readily.
The last time the Kamloops RCMP has sent out a Tweet was week ago in Knutson’s guilty plea.
Since that tweet, there was one death and several overdoses from street drugs. The Kamloops RCMP was silent on Twitter about the overdoses and death. The death and overdoses are very concerning. In the last few months, there have been a rash of deaths and overdoses in Kamloops.
In the same week, the Prince George RCMP sent out multiple Tweets about a hospital kidnapping, and retweeted news stories from the media as well. They tweeted about distracted driving, about the Prince George RCMP request for an investigation of themselves by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C., prolific graffiti, child safety, stolen property information and more.
The Prince George RCMP is actively sharing information with the public that helps the public stay safe, and also gives the public confidence of the Prince George’s detachment.
Last week in Kamloops, there were people dying and overdosing but the RCMP in Kamloops had no Tweets. The deaths and overdoses in Kamloops are ongoing, and yet there was no information sent out.
Certainly Twitter is not the only way the RCMP can communicate. But I have heard from reporters from multiple news sources how difficult it is to get information from the Kamloops detachment. Often the police cite “RCMP policy” or “on-going investigations” as to reasons why information is not disclosed.
Sharing information is part of policing. It keeps people safe, it helps them make better decisions, and it builds confidence in the police.
At any given time, there only about 12 police officers in squad cars patrolling the City. There is no way 12 officers can be the eyes and ears of everything that happens here. If the Kamloops RCMP does not engage the public, and get them onboard with the priorities of the detachment, they will have a much harder time achieving their objectives.
Here’s to having the Kamloops RCMP make sharing more information a strategic priority, starting with Tweeting more than once a week.
— Nancy Bepple is a recovering politician and local news junkie. She expects she will never recover from her love of the banjo.