Kelowna has the money but facing long wait for more RCMP officers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna has the money but facing long wait for more RCMP officers

The Kelowna RCMP detachment is pictured in this file photo.
November 27, 2018 - 11:00 AM

KELOWNA - The RCMP is expected to have a $2.5 million surplus this year that could fund more police officers without hitting taxpayers in the wallet.

Deputy city manager Joe Creron told he’s asking for “quite a number” of new officers to be included in next year’s budget, but he added they’re not likely to show up in Kelowna until some time in 2020.

“We had four officers approved for 2018,” he said. “The request went into the province when final budget was approved in May. The federal government just approved them this month.”

Creron has no idea when the four officers, who were budgeted for this year, will actually arrive and said the RCMP needs to look at it’s inability to supply new officers in a timely manner.

He made his comments after Kelowna city council heard a report from former Kelowna RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon who made 26 recommendations to deal with crime and homelessness in the city.

Part of McKinnon’s report dealt with the RCMP being short as many as 30 of its 188 members last summer due to things like positions not being filled, sick leave and maternity leave. He said female officers are not allowed to work outside the office – to be “boots on the ground” – as soon as they find out they’re pregnant. When they go on maternity leave, they’re not replaced.

McKinnon noted when he was superintendent for 13 years he returned at least $1 million each year to the city in surplus funds.

Finance director Genelle Davidson said some of those surplus funds go into an RCMP reserve but not all of them.

While most of McKinnon’s recommendations will be turned over to city staff for review and a report back some time next year, a couple will be implemented right away because they don’t need council approval.

One is to lobby the provincial government to bring back a new auxiliary police system that relies on volunteers to assist the RCMP. McKinnon told council that initiative seems to be bogged down with the province over what type of uniform auxiliary officers will wear.

McKinnon said when he was in charge of the Kelowna detachment in 2010, there were 65 volunteer auxiliary officers putting in 11,000 hours a year at virtually no cost to the city.

“I’ll be working with the mayor and lobbying the province and our MLA,” Creron said. “I think this is crucial. I’m not going to wait until next year.”

The other recommendation already underway is what’s called a HUB model where RCMP consult with health and social service workers to find help for people in trouble rather than process them as criminals.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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