Top cop out­lines plans to ex­pand

South OK RCMP hop­ing to add 1 of­fi­cer per year through 2022


Pen­tic­ton city coun­cil has ten­ta­tively agreed to bring on an ad­di­tional of­fi­cer at the Pen­tic­ton RCMP de­tach­ment in 2018.

Dur­ing bud­get talks Wed­nes­day, Supt. Ted De Jager laid out a plan to add one of­fi­cer ev­ery year through 2022, when the staffing com­ple­ment would reach 50.

He noted Pen­tic­ton’s ra­tio of 95 cases per of­fi­cer far ex­ceeds that of sim­i­larly sized com­mu­ni­ties, such as Camp­bell River (75) and Ver­non (84).

Ex­tra staffing is just one way to de­crease the load, De Jager added.

“So if we have a lot of thefts in our com­mu­nity, how can we re­duce calls for ser­vice for thefts in the first place? Lock­ing doors, tak­ing valu­ables out of a car, which is our lead­ing crime type right now. So if we re­duce that num­ber we re­duce the case bur­den per mem­ber,” he ex­plained.

Police aren’t the so­lu­tion to is­sues like men­tal health, he added, but they are part of the big­ger pic­ture. Work­ing hand in hand with com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions like In­te­rior Health, the school district and ad­dic­tion re­source cen­tres like Path­ways is one way of find­ing those so­lu­tions. As well, a men­tal health of­fi­cer is start­ing in Jan­uary.

All told, De Jager is re­quest­ing a 2018 bud­get of $8.8 mil­lion, up from $8.5 mil­lion this year.

Mean­while, the Pen­tic­ton Fire De­part­ment is look­ing for an ex­tra $148,000 next year specif­i­cally to help with wild­fire mit­i­ga­tion ef­forts, part of which would be used to pur­chase an all-ter­rain ve­hi­cle to get a jump on small blazes on lo­cal trail net­works.

“We can ac­tu­ally drive this ve­hi­cle on the city roads with per­mit­ting and get right into Camp­bell Moun­tain on the trail net­works,” fire Chief Larry Watkin­son told coun­cil.

“So we can get to a small, kind of hectare-sized fire, man­age it for peo­ple with a rapid de­ploy­ment, get to the fire and ex­tin­guish it be­fore it grows big.”

A struc­tural pro­tec­tion unit – a trailer out­fit­ted with pumps, hoses and por­ta­ble wa­ter tanks – is another big part of the wild­fire bud­get.

“That would ba­si­cally pro­tect up­wards of 50 homes in a com­mu­nity that has a sig­nif­i­cant wild­fire com­ing in,” Watkin­son said.

Sprin­kler sys­tems would keep homes in an evac­u­ated com­mu­nity wet if the fire were to hit them. The prov­ince has th­ese units, but they are in short sup­ply, Watkin­son said, es­pe­cially in a wild­fire sea­son like this past sum­mer af­fect­ing most of the prov­ince.

The full-time staff level of the de­part­ment would re­main un­changed at 35, ac­cord­ing to the bud­get pro­posal pre­sented by Watkin­son, but he is look­ing to in­crease the num­ber of vol­un­teers from 31 to 40.

Watkin­son’s pro­posed bud­get rings in at $5.3 mil­lion, up from $5.2 mil­lion this year.

Coun­cil ten­ta­tively agreed to both the RCMP and fire de­part­ment pro­pos­als, with bud­get dis­cus­sions set to wrap up to­day. To­gether, police and fire ser­vice con­sume about 42 cents of each tax dol­lar col­lected.

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