Community policing 'forum' held little opportunity for discussion - InfoNews

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Community policing 'forum' held little opportunity for discussion

Last night's annual policing forum at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre saw a drop in attendance over last year's event. Those attending last night, April 11, 2018, had little time to present questions to RCMP Superintendent Ted De Jager and his panel.
April 12, 2018 - 2:56 PM

PENTICTON - If the goal of last night’s annual policing forum in Penticton was to present the police’s goals and opinions of law enforcement in the City of Penticton to a regulated, well-behaved crowd of mostly seniors, the evening was a resounding success.

If, however, the goal was to provide a community forum for interaction and exchange of ideas amongst a broad demographic spectrum of the attending public, notsomuch.

Approximately 100 people were on hand at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre last night, April 11, to hear RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager of the Penticton RCMP detachment address the community in the second annual policing forum.

Last year’s event drew around 200 people, and the low attendance last night was noticed by De Jager, who noted at the beginning of the meeting that "there were more chairs placed this year than last.”

De Jager’s message was similar to last year’s forum, explaining recent police policy to not respond to theft from vehicles in cases where vehicles were left unlocked.

“It was a last try to get community support for the message we don’t need to be victims. We can’t solve these crimes, but we can prevent them,” he said.

De Jager again emphasized the city as a safe place to live, citing an 18 per cent drop in violent crime. He said in spite of many perceptions, violent crime was almost non-existent in the downtown core, and “incredibly low for a city of this size," suggesting Penticton’s crime problems had more to do with the vulnerability of the city’s homeless and addicted populations rather than criminal elements.

He also talked about the organization of the community group known as CAST — Community Active Support Table — designed to bring stakeholders in policing, help for the homeless and addicted and other marginalized groups together to respond with police in providing assistance rather than prosecution to those individuals at odds with the law due to their social circumstances.

He said he arranged tonight’s meeting in hopes of hearing what the community had to say.

De Jager’s remarks were followed by a lengthy discussion of 30 questions, received prior to last night’s meeting.

The panel, made up of Debbie Scarborough of the South Okanagan Women in Need Society, Wendy Hyer, School Superintendent for Okanagan Skaha School District, Carol Myers of Pathways Addiction, Manfred Bauer, representing the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and Kevin Fraser of Interior Health, assisted De Jager in providing answers to the questions, which covered a broad range of policing related matters.

Those attending who were interested in posing questions to the superintendent and panel appeared disappointed when the panel question and answer period was extended late into the meeting.

After the first hour, several audience members began trickling out, but when the extended panel session was announced, the trickle turned into a mass exodus.

By 8:45 p.m., roughly 60 people remained. The meeting concluded around 9:20 p.m., with only a half dozen or so remaining in attendance to ask questions.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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