RCMP finally feeling the strain of COVID-19 in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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RCMP finally feeling the strain of COVID-19 in Kamloops

March 10, 2021 - 8:00 AM

An increase in COVID-19 in Kamloops is beginning to impact Kamloops RCMP staffing levels.

Supt. Syd Lecky says the recent spike in cases in the Tournament Capital has infected his own staff, leaving him and his officers in a tough spot finding replacements.

He said they were glad to have refrained from putting their plain-clothes officers onto the street level over 2020, though they were prepared to do so if necessary. But as recently as this afternoon, Supt. Syd Lecky said another officer has been exposed to the virus and will have to undergo self-isolation.

Kamloops has experienced a rise in COVID-19 cases since January, and now RCMP are reluctantly reconsidering bringing their plain-clothes officers, who typically conduct long term investigations, to the frontlines.

“They are working understaffed and it affects their mental health,” he said. “Officers have brought forward to me that it is a health and safety risk to work understaffed.”

Lecky attributes a rise in COVID-19 cases among homeless communities as a likely source of exposure.

READ MORE: Kamloops's top cop calls for safe drug supply

Lecky says that there are a certain few within those communities who are skeptical of the vaccine and they worry that authorities aren't controlling them, leaving a risk for officers.

Homeless individuals in Kamloops have been receiving vaccinations since last week and continuing to this week, according to Interior Health.

Roughly half of the homeless population has been vaccinated, Alfred Achoba, acting director of CMHA Kamloops, estimates.

“We’ve seen an uptick of vaccinations among our clients and frontline staff at our two clinics. Education has been beneficial for us to help people decide to get the vaccine,” Achoba said. “Our clients are skeptical of the vaccine, but there’s skeptics everywhere. It’s important for us because if they are without a home, it’s much harder for them to isolate.”

Meanwhile, Supt. Lecky is working with RCMP officials to have the province prioritize officers as priority individuals to receive a vaccine because of their vulnerable position.

While Kamloops RCMP has largely refrained from handing out fines for health order violations, he said officers have had to "track down six people per day" who allegedly violated health measures. He recounted 93 calls to businesses for COVID-19 related calls in 2020.

"It's not overwhelming but there’s a lot of business-related concerns like mask refusals. It's amazing how many people are out there that are refusing to comply. We've mostly issued warnings and educated people."


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