RCMP will not arrest people in Penticton for bylaw infractions, despite Mayor's urging - InfoNews

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RCMP will not arrest people in Penticton for bylaw infractions, despite Mayor's urging

Street person Paul Braun is pictured panhandling in downtown Pentiction in this file photo. Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki wants more "cooperation" between Penticton RCMP and the city in prosecuting bylaw offenders in order to save time and money.
July 17, 2019 - 12:45 PM

PENTICTON - Penticton's detachment commander has told the Mayor in no uncertain terms that using the RCMP to enforce bylaws to deal with social issues is a non-starter.

Mayor John Vassilaki asked RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager during council's meeting yesterday, July 16, why police couldn’t be more “cooperative” with city prosecutor Troy DeSouza by arresting well-known downtown street person Paul Braun for eight bylaw infractions in a case that took almost a year to prosecute and cost the city nearly $30,000 in legal fees.

“How can we get better cooperation from the police? For example, the people we used for Mr. Braun, we had our own prosecutors come in to handle this case and we got no cooperation from the detachment at all, we had to go the long route, which took nine months,” Vassilaki said. “If the RCMP had cooperated with them, it would’ve only taken two to two and a half months."

De Jager said police did cooperate with the municipal prosecutor “to the extent of the law.”

“Police have no legal authority to arrest people for bylaw infractions, that’s the issue,” he said.

An arrest for multiple bylaw infractions might be done in conjunction with other criminal matters but generally speaking, powers of arrest are limited to criminal code offences, the city's top cop said.

De Jager said municipal prosecutors might not agree with that view, but it is the opinion of Crown counsel, the Supreme Court and his own.

“The notion of using the criminal code and the powers of arrest to address a social issue or an issue of poverty will never fly in Supreme Court and puts my members in a position where they are breaching the law. The sequence of events in Braun’s case was the way to go,” he said.

Vassilaki pressed for meetings with police and the city’s prosecution service “so we don’t go through that extended period of time and cost.”

“It’s not that we want to penalize the homeless or those in need of help... we want to help them more than anything else,” he said. "We have to come together, cooperate, we have to take a shorter course, and it will make the public feel a lot better at the same time.”

De Jagger said the detachment did offer its fullest cooperation to the city prosecutor but said he couldn’t see a situation where the courts would allow an officer to arrest someone for a bylaw infraction.

Find past stories on the Paul Braun case here.


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News from © Infotel News Ltd, 2019
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