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Why Kamloops RCMP is just fine with lost revenue from provincial prisoners

November 28, 2018 - 4:05 PM

KAMLOOPS - Kamloops RCMP came up short on jail revenue this year, but the city's new superintendent told council that's just fine.

Recently-instated Superintendent Syd Lecky went over the detachment's financial highlights at the city council budget meeting yesterday, Nov. 27. Among the challenges, he said, was they made about roughly $20,000 less than expected from detaining provincial prisoners.

However both Lecky and municipal support manager, Jodie MacDonald, agreed that the risks outweigh the benefits; the compensation they get from the provincial government does not reflect the actual costs.

"We get money from the province — it equates to about six or seven dollars [per hour]— for keeping provincial intermittent and remand prisoners," MacDonald told iNFOnews. "Meaning those people should actually go to the corrections (centre)."

Lecky explained that if a local officer arrests and charges someone, who perhaps committed a more violent crime or who is at a high risk of re-offending, the officer may ask the court to hold them. If the court agrees then the cost is transferred to the province and is no longer a municipal expense. He used a hypothetical example to elaborate. 

"So if Chase had a prisoner... and that prisoner got remanded, [the Chase detachment] may ask us to hold on to that prisoner until they can be transferred to (Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre) or in the case of women, down to the Lower Mainland," Lecky said.

It's these prisoners waiting to get transferred to the correct facility that pose a challenge, because the Kamloops detachment is not equipped to be a correctional facility. On top of that, the six or seven dollars per hour from the province has to cover the inmate's food, the guard's salary, and the liability that comes with being responsible for a human life.

MacDonald said the guard's salary isn't even the whole picture as these are not police officers but municipal employees.

"Many of these people their bodies are failing. It's very stressful to have people who could have health concerns during their shift," she said.

"The impact emotionally on civilian staff as well as police is significant," Lecky added.

The facilities at the Kamloops detachment are not meant to house prisoners for more than 24 hours, but on occasion they have to hold a prisoner for up to five days while they wait to be transferred. That's where liability, and the inmates safety becomes a cause for concern.

"The issue is, say we have a female that's held for four days; we are not a correctional facility," MacDonald said. "We have no ability to give them their walks and all the things if you were to look under the human rights of people— they shouldn't be held in a place where it's just a 24 hour lock up."

The liability of housing an inmate covers a wide range of potential problems. If anything should happen to an inmate while in custody the detachment holding them is responsible, and there is a potential to face a lawsuit. Prisoners can and do smuggle drugs into B.C. facilities. Police also have to take an inmate to seek medical attention when they request it, whether they need it or not. Sometimes that means taking an officer away from their post to escort the prisoner to hospital.

MacDonald explained that the reason they asked city council, and council agreed, to limited the number of provincial prisoners the detachment accepts is because, "we want more boots on the ground."

"We're asking for more members and not more members to guard prisoners that don't even belong to us," MacDonald said. "We need them to focus on core policing."

At the budget meeting Lecky called for an increase of about $1.5 million for 2019 up to nearly $26.1 million, which would go towards funding more police officers, administrative costs, and victim assistance among others.

This year the detachment also got $100,000 from the pool of traffic fine revenue that comes from all tickets issued in the province. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shelby Thevenot or call (250) 819-6089 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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