Kamloops RCMP ask for more officers amid nationwide recruitment problems | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops RCMP ask for more officers amid nationwide recruitment problems

Kamloops RCMP Supt. Syd Lecky brought a report to Kamloops city council on March 15, 2022, requesting that it prepare for an increase of 25 officers within five years.

The City of Kamloops budgets for 136 officers at the local RCMP detachment, but filling all the positions is proving difficult.

City council gave its approval to plan for an additional 25 officers over the next five years, but detachment commander Supt. Syd Lecky said this week it could take more than a year before anymore Mounties show up.

"Anything asked for today, you wouldn't see boots on the ground for a year," Lecky said at a March 15 council meeting.

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He said the approval process to have an officer transferred to the detachment is extensive, so the current staff won't see any reprieve from their workload yet. However, even if the Kamloops detachment tries to get more officers transferred from other cities, or recruit from Depot, is another challenge altogether.

"There's a culmination of things that come together," he said. "The pool has been dwindling for potential recruits."

One of the challenges for RCMP is that salaries have, until recently, generally been lower for its officers compared to municipal police departments.

Recent movements like #blacklivesmatter or calls to defund police raise valid concerns, Lecky said, but have made policing much less "appetizing" for potential new hires. At the same time, policing is increasingly "complex" and detachments are under more scrutiny than ever before.

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The City of Kamloops has authorized a staffing level of 136 members, but the detachment generally has a strength of 120 "roadable" officers, which refers to the number of officers actually available to staff the detachment and aren't away on leave.

"If I could get 128 officers, I'd be a happy man," he said.

Lecky added that the City only pays for the roadable officers at the detachment, so Kamloops taxpayers aren't on the hook for officers away for maternity or paternity leave, for example.

RCMP salaries are set to increase after the newly formed union finally came to an agreement with the federal government that would put it on par with municipal detachments.

B.C. has had a higher vacancy rate for RCMP officers for years, when it had 483 open positions in 2017. Alberta was next behind B.C. with 230 vacancies.

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"Kamloops is still a very desirable post, so we do have interest," Lecky said, but other detachments are facing the same challenges, so recruits are not always moved to their chosen city.

While the City is planning to increase the officer count by 25 in the next five years, any budget approval will come to council each year before a commitment is made.

A five officer increase represents a $1 million cost to the City, according to a report to council.

"If we don't need them, we won't be asking for them," Lecky said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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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