KAMLOOPS - Instead of giving bylaw officers defensive tools, Kamloops city council is increasing the number of patrols temporarily.
Community safety director David Duckworth says the increased bylaw patrols in the downtown and North Shore areas will be funded by a $60,000 budget boost.
Council approved the budget increase yesterday, Aug. 16.
“There’ll be some additional staff to deal with some additional pressures we’re having,” he says. “We’ll have additional bylaw presence doing foot patrols during some peak periods when tourists are downtown and people are downtown enjoying our parks.”
The funds will cover the new staff and comes from the city’s reserve police fund. For now it’s a temporary plan, Duckworth says.
The increased staffing decision is due in part to a review of bylaw officers’ priorities. The discussion on whether or not to provide defensive tools, like pepper spray or handcuffs, is currently on hold until the end of the review in early 2017.
“We’re doing a review of the entire bylaw division and all the services they provide,” he says.
If the bylaw division continues to deal with transient camps and aggressive panhandling, Duckworth says the defensive tools need to be considered.
“Our priorities change from year to year,” he says. “This year we had a large influx for a period of time of aggressive nuisance behaviour from people that may not have been from Kamloops that were coming through town, so those priorities may not be there next year.”
Increasing staff is a temporary measure to help with those pressures. There’ve been six assaults on bylaw staff over the past year, he says, so officer safety is an important issue to address.
The review will also look at a recently suggested nuisance bylaw and the wording behind it.
“RCMP officers also enforce our city bylaws, and they would like some additional ability to deal with some nuisance behaviours,” Duckworth says.
The wording of the bylaw is being looked at to ensure it can be enforced by both bylaw and police officers.
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