Kelowna may close community policing office in Lower Mission; expand service in Rutland | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna may close community policing office in Lower Mission; expand service in Rutland

A Kelowna auxiliary RCMP officer, volunteer and RCMP officer are pictured in this undated photo.
Image Credit: City of Kelowna
March 05, 2021 - 1:42 PM

The City of Kelowna has run community police offices in the Rutland and Lower Mission neighbourhoods since the mid-1990s, but no more.

The proposed closure of the Lower Mission office and the beefing up of services in Rutland demonstrate not just a difference in crime but also highlights the importance of location.

Kelowna city council will be asked on Monday, March 8, to permanently close the Mission office, located in the regional district office on KLO Road. It has been temporarily closed since last year because of COVID-19.

Last May, the two RCMP civilian staff members at the KLO office were moved to the RCMP detachment downtown.

“Callers to KLO have since been redirected to the detachment’s online and main phone services rendering the Community Policing Office, in effect, fully closed,” a report to council states. “Staff indicate that there have been no complaints since.”

The office opened in 1996 on Lakeshore Road but was relocated to the regional district office in 2014. That meant it was only open to the public during regular business hours.

In order to be successful, such offices need to be easily accessible by walking and have extended hours, neither of which this office had.

An average of 1.25 people per day walked into the KLO office compared to three times as many in Rutland.

The KLO office fielded an average of 83 phone calls a month and usage had been declining every year. Rutland averaged 174 calls per month.

The KLO office was not located in a “higher need /crime area or in a largely residential area,” the report states.

The Rutland office, which opened in 1993, has been operated largely by volunteers compared to paid staff at KLO Road.

“It is clear that Central Kelowna and Rutland citizens, including members of the Uptown Rutland Business Association and the Rutland Residents Association, are engaged and want enhanced policing services in their community,” the report states.

As a result, the City budgeted for a half-time clerk to work out of the Rutland office so there can be full-time front counter coverage.

The Rutland office fits all the key criteria for a successful operation, the report states. That includes being in a “higher needs/crime area."

“This is reflected in the usage and demand by the local community, and expansion of the scope of services offered at the Community Policing Office are warranted and will be well-received,” the report says.

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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