Can a civilian do it? Stretched resources forcing Kelowna RCMP to get creative - InfoNews

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Can a civilian do it? Stretched resources forcing Kelowna RCMP to get creative

Kelowna RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle
May 03, 2019 - 6:30 PM

KELOWNA - As case loads continue to increase and technology evolves, Kelowna RCMP are getting ready to launch an on-line crime reporting system and have more civilians handle files that will never be seen by a police officer.

Those were a couple of proposed changes RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle outlined to Kelowna City Council earlier this week and explained in more detail to iNFOnews.ca.

It falls under one of the four prime goals in his Crime Reduction Strategy – this one being to “maximize the effectiveness of resources,” where he’s learned that up to 40 per cent of calls taken at the detachment fall into low priority classifications.

“What that means is that, potentially, there may not actually be a requirement for an RCMP officer to deal with some of those instances,” Mundle said.

One example he gave would be a theft where there is no evidence, no witnesses, no video footage and no suspect around.

“That report could be taken by a civilian,” he said. “They could analyze it through their questions in obtaining a statement from the victim, then a determination would be made whether or not it needs to be referred to a regular RCMP member to complete the investigation.”

The on-line system has been tested in Kelowna and three other B.C. cities and is being used in cities like Victoria and Edmonton, he said.

An announcement on its rollout will be made soon.

Even with on-line reporting, most complaints will have to involve RCMP officers under the present system.

Mundle has drafted a business case for having civilians pick up more of the workload but can’t say, at this time, how many more civilian staff would be needed. He expects a formal proposal won’t go to city council until the 2020 budget cycle and refers to it as an “idea” right now.

He may have his work cut out for him in selling it to city council when the time comes.

At Monday’s council meeting, Coun. Charlie Hodge suggested RCMP officers are better trained than civilians to ask probing questions of victims. Coun. Ryan Donn raised concerns about how the strategy would be explained to the public.

In a Kelowna Crime Survey released to city council last month, it was reported that 47 per cent of crimes go unreported.

In 61 per cent of those cases, people felt the police wouldn’t be able to do anything while 50 per cent said the crime was too small to report.

Mundle said it is important to report even small crimes since it helps police plot patterns and locations and adjust their officers’ duties.

As well, for example, when a bicycle is stolen and reported online or dealt with only by a civilian, if that bike is found and the serial number has been recorded, it can be returned to the owner.

Being able to report small crimes online — with lowered expectations — may mean that more crimes will be reported.

That has the potential to drive crime rates up in 2019. In 2018, property crime reports went up about 10 per cent to almost 9,300. 

Mundle stressed that only certain, more minor crimes, would be handled in this way.

Right now, for example, RCMP officers pick up and review video recordings from businesses, spending considerable time driving around town and studying the video. That’s work that, potentially, could be done by civilians.

Assaults, break-ins and potentially dangerous situations will not handled by civilians.

What do you think? What policing work could civilians safely do so we don’t have to continue expanding our police force – which is the largest department in the city’s budget?


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