Top cop de­fends re­sponse times

Head of Pen­tic­ton RCMP de­tach­ment says of­fi­cers in city re­spond to calls faster than na­tional av­er­age

Penticton Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By KEITH LACEY

Po­lice re­sponse times in Pen­tic­ton are bet­ter than the na­tional av­er­age and any sug­ges­tion to the con­trary is in­ac­cu­rate, RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager told lo­cal politi­cians Thurs­day.

Dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion to the board of the Re­gional Dis­trict of Okana­ganSim­ilka­meen, De Jager was asked by Pen­tic­ton Mayor John Vas­si­laki what the de­tach­ment is do­ing to im­prove re­sponse times.

Vas­si­laki was ref­er­enc­ing an in­ci­dent last week in which an in­tox­i­cated man en­tered a down­town busi­ness and was kept at bay by city by­law of­fi­cers un­til po­lice ar­rived about 20 min­utes later.

“I want you to as­sure the com­mu­nity that this isn’t a dan­ger­ous place to live,” Vas­si­laki told De Jager.

De Jager said that dur­ing the in­ci­dent in ques­tion, an of­fi­cer ar­rived on the scene within three min­utes of re­ceiv­ing the call for ser­vice from dis­patch.

“We call that a dis­patch de­lay,” he ex­plained. “Our dis­patch sys­tem may some­times hold the file be­cause some­times there’s no­body avail­able.”

Even if twice as many front-line of­fi­cers were avail­able, he con­tin­ued, that wouldn’t guar­an­tee re­sponse times would change.

“Some­times the mem­bers are in­volved with other files,” said De Jager.

The po­lice in­dus­try stan­dard for re­sponse times across North Amer­ica is nine min­utes for pri­or­ity 911 calls, he added.

“The fact is the ma­jor­ity of our re­sponse times in the more ur­ban ar­eas are well un­der in­dus­try stan­dards,” said De Jager.

“I re­al­ize that might be small com­fort to some­one who is on the phone wait­ing for po­lice to ar­rive, but we are look­ing at all of that to en­sure we are well un­der that in­dus­try stan­dard.”

De Jager re­peated his mantra that Pen­tic­ton and the en­tire re­gion re­main “one of the safest places to be, but that doesn’t mean that crime does not hap­pen and doesn’t mean that we don’t have con­cerns that we’re try­ing to ad­dress.”

There are fewer than 100 pro­lific of­fend­ers spread across this re­gion who are re­spon­si­ble for 80 to 90 per cent of se­ri­ous crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, and po­lice con­tinue to tar­get those in­di­vid­u­als, said De Jager.

“The no­tion that down­town Pen­tic­ton is an un­safe place — and I’ve been very pub­lic about that — is wrong,” he said.

Jake Kim­ber­ley, a Pen­tic­ton city coun­cil­lor and RDOS di­rec­tor, said most of the com­plaints he fields con­cern the lack of a vis­i­ble po­lice pres­ence in the down­town core.

“What if there were cruis­ers go­ing up and down Main Street on a fairly reg­u­lar ba­sis?” he asked rhetor­i­cally. “It would de­ter a lot of that ac­tiv­ity off that Main Street.”

De Jager re­sponded that un­marked cruis­ers are of­ten lo­cated down­town as mem­bers of the Tar­geted En­force­ment Unit are keep­ing close watch on pro­lific of­fend­ers and there has been a spike in reg­u­lar pa­trols over the past sev­eral months.

Smaller com­mu­ni­ties like Kere­meos and Caw­ston, how­ever, might have only one of­fi­cer on duty at any given time, with backup avail­able 40 or 50 min­utes away in Pen­tic­ton.

In those places, “We look to the com­mu­nity to look af­ter them­selves,” said De Jager, who urged the pub­lic to call po­lice when­ever they are vic­tims or wit­nesses of crime.

De Jager

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