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Penticton's new top cop promises to be tough on crime

RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter says his priorities as Penticton's top cop include working with the community to resolve addiction and mental health issues, and targeting the region's prolific offenders.
February 12, 2020 - 1:15 PM

Penticton’s new top cop says he’s tough on crime, and catching prolific offenders is high on his enforcement list.

RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter has been at his new post as officer in charge of the Penticton detachment for a week now. He takes over following the departure of Supt. Ted De Jager late last year. De Jager accepted a position with RCMP E-Division in Surrey.

Hunter, who describes himself as "a real person," is bringing 26 years of service as a detachment level police officer to Penticton, where he says he has a wealth of experience.

Hunter met with members of the media today, Feb. 12, outlining his thoughts on crime fighting in Penticton while extolling the virtues of the community.

He transferred to the city from his most recent posting in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, and calls Penticton an “amazing community.” Although he he did point out the city’s high property crime statistics and officer caseload, which he says is nearly two times the provincial average.

Hunter, who has also served at RCMP detachments in Telegraph Creek, Dease Lake and Williams Lake says he was attracted to Penticton by the South Okanagan environment and the challenge of policing here.

“We’re a big part of the city budget, at $9 million and with that I’m really looking forward to working with the City, strategizing, and the ultimate goal for all of us is a safe place to live, work and play. That’s my major goal here as detachment commander, not only with the City, but collaboratively with other community agencies, which I’m just getting to know,” Hunter said.

“I need to be candid with the community. We are facing, like other municipalities and communities, a health and medical issue that the symptoms of which are downloaded to the municipalities and the police to deal with. What I’m speaking of is addiction and mental health issues.”

Hunter said he won’t be initiating any changes to the detachment’s methods initially, calling such a move "irresponsible."  He also disagreed with the perception Penticton RCMP have been easy on crime in the past.

“There’s going to be enforcement. I don’t think it’s the case we weren’t tough on crime before,” he said.

Hunter said Penticton’s property crime stem from the drug and mental health issues in the community. He said he was committed to working together with community groups to deal with addictions and mental health issues.

“Ultimately and ideally, if we can get to the root of the problem which primarily is addiction, then they will not have to feed that addiction through crime,” he said. “A lot of the crimes that are committed in our communities are literally survival crimes for these folks that are addicted."

Hunter said his focus on prolific offenders will include identification of chronic offenders in the community and subsequent work with Crown and the judiciary to "ensure we hold them to account as much as we can within our legal framework.”

He said he would be working with Crown and local probation officers to ensure they are all on the same page, identifying chronic offenders and having their bail sheets prepared with a comprehensive summary of the offender’s criminal history.

Hunter had high praise for detachment and regional staff, with a promise to support the front line and be as efficient as possible with detachment resources.

“We have a lot of work on our plate here, but my goal is to get that crime rate down in collaboration with community partners,” he said.

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