P.G. could be­come re­gional RCMP hub

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Jeremy HAINSWORTH

B.C. RCMP of­fi­cials are fac­ing of­fi­cer short­ages and in­creased costs in larger mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties while po­ten­tially clos­ing small de­tach­ments in favour of re­gional hubs, an RCMP as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner said this week.

Eric Stubbs told Union of B.C. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties del­e­gates in Whistler that at­tri­tion and fewer fu­ture con­sta­bles train­ing in Regina has led to of­fi­cer short­ages.

In re­sponse, the force is repo­si­tion­ing staff and con­sid­er­ing cre­at­ing re­gional hubs in places such as Prince Ge­orge, Nanaimo, Pen­tic­ton, Ver­non and the Koote­nays.

“In larger com­mu­ni­ties, we are look­ing at re­gional de­tach­ments,” Stubbs, a for­mer Prince Ge­orge RCMP su­per­in­ten­dent, said.

“We’re re­vis­it­ing them to see if they need to be tweaked, to be blown up, or (re­main) the sta­tus quo.

“It’s scru­tiny of who’s do­ing what, what’s the most ef­fec­tive model. With the spot­light on costs, we want to make sure we get that right.”

Stubbs said of­fi­cers would be moved in and out of hubs, pos­si­bly re­plac­ing tra­di­tional one-or-two mem­ber de­tach­ments where of­fi­cers worked all hours.

“We have to be able to adapt and in­no­vate as the en­vi­ron­ment changes around us,” Stubbs said.

The RCMP has not been with­out con­tro­versy in B.C. and there are those who would close lo­cal de­tach­ments and switch to mu­nic­i­pal forces.

But, stressed Clay­ton Pec­knold, Min­istry of Pub­lic Safety and So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral as­sis­tant deputy min­is­ter and di­rec­tor of po­lice ser­vices, a move to city forces comes at a sig­nif­i­cant cost to a city’s bud­get.

“More and more, the cost of polic­ing is be­com­ing a con­cern for the min­istry,” Pec­knold said.

UBCM safety com­mit­tee chair­man Bruce Hayne said pro­vin­cial polic­ing has cost $1.19 bil­lion this year, up from $1.08 bil­lion in 2016.

“These costs are not go­ing down,” Hayne said.

Stubbs down­played a short­age of new of­fi­cers while ac­knowl­edg­ing prob­lems with at­tri­tion and mem­bers mov­ing on to other work.

“We’re re­cruit­ing the peo­ple we need,” he said.

“We’re do­ing our best to get them into strate­gic ar­eas.”

Part of the aim, he said, is keep­ing com­mu­ni­ties safe by tar­get­ing pro­lific of­fend­ers.

“They don’t care about the com­mu­nity,” They care about them­selves,” he said.

Other prime polic­ing ar­eas are the do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, sex­ual vi­o­lence, and men­tal health is­sues and the opi­oid cri­sis, Stubbs said.

“The RCMP has be­come a lead­ing agency in the de­ploy­ment of (opi­oid over­dose-re­vers­ing drug) Nalox­one.”

Gang vi­o­lence re­mains a Lower Main­land is­sue, he said, adding that the RCMP has learned from fight­ing gangs, putting it in the fore­front of such work in Canada.

Po­ten­tially com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters is the loom­ing union­iza­tion of the RCMP and time­lines for tri­als set by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The top court’s Jor­dan de­ci­sion in 2016 es­tab­lished strict time­lines for get­ting a crim­i­nal case to trial.

The court gave the po­lice and courts 18 months in pro­vin­cial court and 30 months in su­pe­rior court.

If the time­lines aren’t met, cases can be tossed for vi­o­lat­ing an ac­cused’s right to be tried in a rea­son­able time.

Stubbs said that means of­fi­cers are spend­ing more time at their desks do­ing the re­quired time­line pa­per­work rather than re­spond­ing to calls.

“This is a real is­sue – our hav­ing to stay in the of­fice.”

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