Kelowna RCMP want to become more sensitive to victims of sexual assault | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna RCMP want to become more sensitive to victims of sexual assault

FILE PHOTO - Kelowna RCMP Supt. Kara Triance speaks to the media on Feb. 23, 2021.
April 12, 2021 - 7:00 AM

After harsh criticism triggered by its past mishandling of sexual assault complaints, Kelowna's new top cop is looking to change the culture.

In a report going to city council on Monday, April 12, RCMP Supt. Kara Triance, who took command last fall, specifically references a 2020 investigation into the number of sexual assault complaints being ruled as “unfounded.”

Even though it turns out that most of those files were labelled incorrectly, it appears to be a sore point with the new officer in charge.

READ MORE: Here’s how mistakes were made on 62 per cent of Kelowna RCMP’s sexual assault cases

“Learning from our community’s concerns over past classification of sexual assault reports as well as the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, we are increasingly aware of our potential to improve an individual’s capacity to cope with the trauma they have experienced or make it worse,” Triance wrote in her report on a new strategic plan for the detachment.

It also includes a commitment for the force to be diverse so there will be quarterly updates on the “percent of seats at senior decision-making tables held by underrepresented groups (women; Indigenous, Métis, Black and People of Colour; LGBTQ2S+),” the report states.

The strategic plan, called Here to Listen, Here to Serve has four objectives including earning the trust of citizens who have experienced crimes against their persons.

One of the goals under that objective is to make sure that, “70 per cent of our detachment is trained in and has adopted the Start by Believing pledge to improve our responses to sexual violence.”

Triance also wants 70 per cent of the detachment trained in trauma-informed practices.

The other objectives focus on increasing the public’s sense of safety in public spaces, to decrease the risk of property crime and to have officers show up, “at our best for every citizen.”

Plans call for doubling of downtown foot and bike patrols, and a more visible police presence in the community.

While 98 per cent of people responding to City of Kelowna surveys in 2019 and 2020 said they felt safe in their own neighbourhoods at day and at night, they did not feel as safe downtown because of the presence of homeless people on the streets, the report states.

“The social and public health issues, including persons living with mental illness, that are most visible in the downtown as well as other areas of Kelowna, such as Rutland, cannot be solved through law enforcement action,” Triance wrote in her report. “It is also a rare exception when there are legal grounds for arrest.”

She wants to work with the courts to make sure persistent offenders are properly dealt with.

“Police services depend on the courts to address persistent offenders, appreciating more and more that ending a cycle of addictions and crime for persistent offenders must include partners beyond police services and justice organization,” she wrote.

In terms of being “at our best for every citizen,” Triance talks about the importance of having a healthy workforce.

“We are investing in the psychological resilience our policing professionals need to show up at their best for every citizen, many of whom may be experiencing victimization, personal loss, or mental health and substance use challenges,” she wrote. “By focusing on our people, we can better serve our communities.

“The initiatives in this pillar include investment in the wellness and cultural competence of our policing professionals and a renewed commitment to customer service principles, including listening, empathy, and follow-up.”

There is no mention in the report of any future staffing level increases that might be asked for in order to fulfill the detachment’s goals.


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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