Kelowna’s new police chief supports decriminalization of drugs | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna’s new police chief supports decriminalization of drugs

RCMP Supt. Kara Triance
Image Credit: Submitted/Kelowna RCMP
February 22, 2021 - 6:00 PM

In her first public report to Kelowna city council, RCMP Supt. Kara Triance was forthright when asked by Coun. Loyal Wooldridge for her opinion on decriminalization of illicit drugs.

“As your police chief for your community, decriminalization – meaning a pathway to health care for those who are addicted individuals within our community – is a priority for myself,” she said. “It is absolutely something I will always be advocating for when it comes to those who have mental health and substance abuse challenges.”

Police will “respond with compassion from a health perspective to overdoses within our community aligned with our community partners in health,” she added.

Her approach to dealers, however, is dramatically reversed.

“When you’re dealing with those who are bringing drugs into the community and benefitting from an economic perspective through criminal activity such as the sale of drugs, we will always take the approach of enforcement where possible,” she said.

She won high praise from councillors like Charlie Hodge.

“The last couple of months of having you at the helm, so to speak, has instilled in me a tremendous sense of confidence that I haven’t had for awhile, to be honest with you,” he said. “I feel much more confident with how things are being handled."

Triance started in her new job in November. She gave a summary of how the RCMP had functioned over the past few years with its focus on property crime.

While property crime will continue to have a high priority, she outlined some changes that are coming as she moves into drafting her 2021-24 crime reduction strategy.

Two new RCMP officers who are ranked at the inspector level will be coming to Kelowna in March and April to take over the Front Line Policing and Investigative Services units. The latter deals with serious crime, sexual assault and street crimes.

There had been controversy in the past about how Kelowna RCMP dealt with sexual assault complaints and Triance said she has taken note of, for example, the misclassification of dozens of sexual assault allegations.

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

There is now a five-person sexual assault team that she will monitor closely and increase in size if necessary, she said.

Ten per cent of police files are coming from the downtown area so more officers will be brought in to increase the six people on foot patrol and another six on bicycle patrols. She’s also changed their schedules so they start earlier in the mornings and work later into the evenings to bring a more visible presence downtown.

She plans to report crime stats every four months and will bring in data about the size of Kelowna’s summer tourist population and its impact on policing.

But, it’s not all about numbers, Triance said in response for a request by Coun. Ryan Donn for more data on how many traffic tickets are handed out.

“Traffic has always been a focus for me about not including volume as an indicator of success but, rather, safety,” she said. “So, when we look at road safety we look at: are collisions going up or down? Are streets safe to use for public transportation? Are there safe walking routes to school for children? Is there access to green transportation and are our fatal collisions staying the same, going down or going up?”

She did show data that there were six fatal collisions in the city in each of the last two years but that the overall number of collisions went down.

She also noted that there was a decrease in thefts last year but that was the same all over the province and the country. What was different for Kelowna is that thefts from businesses were not up as it was in other communities.

READ MORE: Thefts were down but assaults were up in Kelowna in 2020

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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