New de­tach­ment wel­comed

Whit­bourne build­ing at end of its use­ful life, says RCMP sergeant

The Compass - - OPINION - BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

Among the old­est

Lo­ca­tion con­cerns Mur­ray sug­gested the de­tach­ment’s lo­ca­tion is also a con­cern, since it takes about five min­utes for a pa­trol car to reach the Trans-canada High­way. Of­fi­cers respond to an av­er­age of 900 calls for ser­vice on the TCH an­nu­ally, and he won­ders if it would make bet­ter sense to lo­cate the de­tach­ment closer to the high­way.

He said Whit­bourne is “very quiet,” and ac­knowl­edged that a lo­ca­tion closer to the high­way has been con­sid­ered.

Many mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers would likely ar­gue against any sug­ges­tion of re­mov­ing a po­lice de­tach­ment from their town, but that’s not the case in Whit­bourne.

Mayor Lloyd Gosse agrees that a lo­ca­tion closer to the TCH would be a pre­ferred sit­u­a­tion.

“I think it would be bet­ter for the area,” said Gosse. “We talked about this the other night (at coun­cil), and we’re all on the same mind. They have to serve the area. Not just Whit­bourne. We’re big enough to say that’s the way it prob­a­bly should be.”

Iron­i­cally, the town de­signed the

The sergeant in charge of op­er­a­tions with the Pla­cen­tia-whit­bourne Dis­trict RCMP is wel­com­ing news that the de­tach­ment in Whit­bourne is one of five short­listed for ren­o­va­tion or re­place­ment over the next five years.

Sgt. Tom Mur­ray said the three­level wooden build­ing in Whit­bourne has served the force well over the years, but is no longer up to the stan­dard needed to ac­com­mo­date a mod­ern po­lice de­tach­ment.

“It’s use­ful life is to the bit­ter end,” said Mur­ray.

The pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments signed an agree­ment last month that guar­an­tees the RCMP will pro­vide polic­ing ser­vices in this prov­ince for at least the next two decades.

The new agree­ment in­cludes strate­gic in­vest­ments for up­dat­ing and re­plac­ing de­tach­ments in the prov­ince.

In a news re­lease is­sued late last month, the prov­ince an­nounced it had iden­ti­fied five de­tach­ments which need to be ren­o­vated or re­placed. These de­tach­ments are Whit­bourne, St. An­thony, Twilli n gat e , R o cky Harbo u r a n d Clarenville.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has an­nounced an in­vest­ment of $3.9 mil­lion in each of the next five years to a new in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram, which rep­re­sents the prov­ince’s 70 per cent share.

The Whit­bourne de­tach­ment was con­structed in 1961, and is among the old­est RCMP build­ings in the prov­ince, said Mur­ray, a St. John’s na­tive and 26-year veteran of the RCMP.

“This de­tach­ment was well-built and we’ve main­tained it well over the years,” Mur­ray stated. “But I be­lieve it’s just too old for ren­o­va­tion.”

Mur­ray said there are sev­eral short­com­ings, in­clud­ing the fact there is no lock-up in the build­ing, forc­ing of­fi­cers to trans­port those in cus­tody to Pla­cen­tia. He said the in­ter­view and breath­a­lyzer/fin­ger­print rooms are “sub-par,” and noted there are other “space lim­i­ta­tions.” He said the de­tached, un­heated garage has also posed some chal­lenges, es­pe­cially as it re­lates to the stor­age of ve­hi­cles be­ing held in con­nec­tion to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. RCMP de­tach­ment a mu­nic­i­pal her­itage struc­ture late last year.

Gosse said he would not want to see the build­ing bull­dozed, and be­lieves there could be an­other use for it.

More in­put for prov­ince

Mean­while, Jus­tice Min­is­ter and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Felix Collins (Pla­cen­tia-st. Mary’s) said the new agree­ment will mean more in­put into ma­jor cap­i­tal de­ci­sions.

“The five- year in­fra­struc­ture plan will see sig­nif­i­cant ren­o­va­tions or re­place­ment of de­tachme n t s a n d l i v i ng q u a r t e r s through­out the prov­ince. Some of these build­ings are up to 60 years old and no longer meet the nec­es­sary stan­dards re­quired to carry out present- day polic­ing ac­tiv­i­ties,” Collins said.

“Polic­ing stan­dards have changed sig­nif­i­cantly over the years and these de­tach­ment re­place­ments and ren­o­va­tions wi l l go a long way in ad­dress­ing our in­fra­struc­ture re­quire­ments for to­day and into the fu­ture,” said Su­per­in­ten­dent An­drew Boland, act­ing com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of RCMP “B” Di­vi­sion.

Since 2004, polic­ing bud­gets have in­creased by over $52 mil­lion and there are an ad­di­tional 145 uni­formed po­lice of­fi­cers on the street, ac­cord­ing to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

The RCMP op­er­ates in ap­prox­i­mately 50 lo­ca­tions, with over 440 uni­formed mem­bers in ad­di­tion to nu­mer­ous civil­ian mem­bers and public ser­vice em­ploy­ees.

The RNC op­er­ates in the North­east Avalon, Corner Brook area and Labrador West.

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Pho­tos by Ni­cholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Sgt. Tom Mur­ray is the op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer for the Pla­cen­tia-whit­bourne Dis­trict RCMP.

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