Penticton council criticized for only approving two more RCMP officers during special meeting | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton council criticized for only approving two more RCMP officers during special meeting

Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki.

Penticton City Council turned down a request from Mayor John Vassilaki for five new police officers today, July 29, at a special council meeting.

The request from the mayor came after Rick Thorpe, former MLA for the city, suggested earlier this month that money be taken from city reserves to fund more police officers in response to growing crime in the city.

He was the first caller to council, via Zoom, after the decision was made.

“It’s amazing to me, and it’s disappointing to a lot of people in Penticton that, right now, spending money on bike lanes is more important than safety in our community and working with the RCMP who, for all intents and purposes, are pleading for assistance,” Thorpe said.

After defeating Vassilaki’s motion, council agreed to hire two RCMP officers now (although it will be months before they are actually on the job) and have a study done on public safety in Penticton.

“For people to say it is not a crisis or a major problem is a big mistake,” Thorpe said. “So, once again, you’re going to nickel and dime your way down the road.”

He pointed out that it has been 53 weeks since council voted unanimously to make public safety a priority.

“Why did this council not do something?” Thorpe asked.

Councillors were concerned that adding five new officers – estimated to cost $5 million over five years – was not being done as part of the budget process, there were too many unanswered questions about things like crime statistics and other support services in the community and that money might be better spent on other things in the city.

They defeated Vassilaki's motion by a 4-3 vote, then voted unanimously to hire two officers and do the study.

RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter said that his staff is working full time just responding for calls to service.

He can no longer justify having a police officer in the schools and has taken staff away from things like traffic, drug and prolific criminal enforcement units just to respond to calls.

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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