New peace officers easing Kelowna RCMP workload | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New peace officers easing Kelowna RCMP workload


It's been eight years since the auxiliary RCMP officer system in B.C. was gutted. Now, the City of Kelowna and RCMP have launched a new program that goes a little way towards using civilians to aid the police in their day to day work.

“The idea behind the program, was that an officer would spend less time in the office taking care of all these little things they have to take care of – those files that are mostly just phone calls because somebody lost their passport or somebody feels they got ripped off from the bank or something,” Kelowna RCMP media relations officer Const. Mike Della-Paolera told

“We get those kinds of calls and they’re time consuming calls when a police officer could actually be going to a murder or going to a shoplifting in progress. So the watch support officer can take those files.”

The city hired four watch support officers in the summer to cover all shifts, or watches as the RCMP call them.

They're classified as peace officers, which gives them increased status to conduct investigations. Unlike auxiliaries however, they don’t go out on the streets with regular officers and instead spend their 12-hour shifts in the office.

READ MORE: Fighting to get auxiliary police onto city streets is an uphill battle, says the man leading the charge in B.C.

“The peace officer designation, technically, gives them the power to arrest,” Della-Paolera said. “A bylaw officer has a peace officer status. A dog catcher has peace officer status. It just gives them a little bit more authority under the criminal code but they’re not police officers. They don’t have weapons. They’re not trained in any of that stuff. It just gives them more authority to do investigations. It gives them access to some of our data banks that you have to be a peace officer to get into.”

While other RCMP detachments have similar programs, their workers are not classified as peace officers so the Kelowna’s watch support officers have more responsibility.

The jobs they perform include things like handling the paperwork after someone was required to get their vehicle repaired or managing curfew checks by processing the paperwork after an officer has done the check. They can contact owners about towed vehicles, process exhibits and take oaths and affidavits.

“They can be the initial response to the lower priority files but hand them over to regular members if required,” Della-Paolera said.

While they help with the workload, Della-Paolera couldn’t say if having four watch support officers translated into having four more officers out on the street.

The auxiliary program ended in 2016 because of concerns for those officers' safety.

Although there are some auxiliary officers still listed with Kelowna RCMP they’re not given assignments.

A revised auxiliary program has been talked about but discussions bogged down two years ago over the type of uniforms such officers would wear.

READ MORE: New auxiliary police system will likely be flagged as volunteers in B.C.

The RCMP wants the uniforms to carry a “volunteer” label which cities and the province oppose.

Della-Paolera hasn’t heard of any break in that stalemate or whether the program will ever come back.

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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