One man stated Oliver should re-brand itself as the Crime Capital – saying the national media portrays the South Okanagan as blessed with floods, fire and crime.
Less than 10 people spoke at the microphone talking to issues like drugs, hoodie gangs, thefts from vehicles and property, speeding in the streets, smoking in school grounds AND a lack of policing in the overnight period.
Okay now to the question asked – less than 30 residents of Town and or rural Oliver showed for the public forum Tuesday at the Community Centre. The town sponsored the meeting with 3 police officers, 2 bylaw officers, Fire Chief, all of council, reps from Speed/Crime Watch, Crimestoppers and many of the senior staff at the Town.
The police delivered statistics indicating that the Oliver crime rate is similar to other small communities in the Okanagan and also spoke to the issue of the courts. What? Most prolific criminals spend a bit of time in jail and return to their full time job of being criminals. On most issues raised – the police indicated they are aware but manpower is in short supply.
Superintendent Ted De Jager told the small audience that much of the crime is committed by known persons (prolific offenders) and the crime rate “drops like a stone” when those persons are in jail. De Jager said the workload in Oliver is heavy with only 30% of that work resulting in charges being laid.
Fire Chief Bob Graham took the opportunity to talk fire prevention saying we are at that point with temperature and humidity that fires can spread quickly. He stated there is a complete ban on open burning in the Town of Oliver at all times of the year and in the rural area in the hot and dry summer months.
The audience identified a number of problem houses and Sgt. Blaine Gervais says they are known to police but officers need more info from the public to help in catching criminals. Gervais stated that stats can be interesting but sometimes all the numbers in certain sections are caused by one person.
Cpl. Christina Tarasoff told the crowd that police are listening and attempting to do what they can to stem a rising tide of petty crime.
Mayor Ron Hovanes chaired the meeting and said that a lot has changed in 40 years. “We must adapt and change and start protecting our possessions, homes, toys etc. and not to expect the police to be there 24/7”.