VERNON - Vernon’s mayor is affirming his confidence in the RCMP following a recent report by iNFOnews.ca into staffing levels at the detachment.
Mund says in a media release council fully supports the RCMP detachment in Vernon and the service they provide to residents.
“We have complete confidence in their ability to mobilize resources throughout the North Okanagan as required,” Mund says.
Our story, ‘RISK IT OUT’: Chronic RCMP understaffing leaving Vernon cops in danger’ reported the detachment is short an estimated 15.7 per cent of its staff at any given time due to vacancies. Our story reported that watches are often left running short of members, putting officers at risk.
The release from the city states there were ‘several inaccuracies regarding staffing levels and caseloads’ — including the number of active members on duty — that could ‘lead residents to believe that the safety of the community and the officers was at risk.’
However, it does not offer the number of active members on duty, nor their caseloads.
Mund said the city budgets 50 funded officer positions, and added that officer strength can vary from 48 to 56 positions. The iNFOnews.ca investigation, however, found that the city is routinely only ever billed for roughly 48 officers. The city authorizes a maximum strength of 56 officers to provide for budgeting flexibility, however at the end of the year it will only pay for a maximum of 50 — not 56.
Mund noted there have been several high profile cases handled by the RCMP this year, including an arson case, an investigation into a shooting at the Green Valley Motel, the murder of local man Jason Hardy, and numerous investigations into child pornography cases. Mund also said the RCMP has made concerted efforts over the past several months to target escalating violence linked to the drug trade.
It's unclear, however, what role the short-handed watch complement played in those investigations.
“Superintendent Jim McNamara and Inspector Gord Stewart have always been communicative to council and we appreciate their transparency,” Mund said. “Under the leadership of Supt. McNamara, the members have demonstrated their capacity to adapt to shifting demands in policing and to continue to provide optimal levels of public safety.”
— This story was corrected at 9 a.m. Dec. 3, 2016 to say 15.7 per cent of the Vernon detachment’s officers are away on leave, leaving it with 48 roadable members. An earlier version of this story stated 20 per cent were off the job, leaving an estimated 38 to 40 roadable members.
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