From Rick Knodel, Willowbrook
In reply to questions I have been asked about my letter regarding district municipal policing.
The policing methodologies for a smaller agricultural community tend to differ from those of a larger metropolitan city like Penticton. I will use Oliver as the example but Osoyoos has much the same issues. Over the years what has been considered normal practices required by the RCMP for protection of the residents has progressed to the point that there is no longer is patrolling after 1:00 AM – only on- call service. As you can imagine when there is no cat for a block of hours the rats have a field day during that time.
As more and more policing resources are being directed at the politically correct traffic issues of the day and none are directed to the prevention of late night theft the exasperation felt by residents increases. As I stated traffic issues have importance but there is a pressing need for police resources to be shared between all needs.
The RCMP have an impressive record of apprehending prolific offenders ; the problem is apprehension can only happen after they have committed a number of offenses and caused much damage and lose of property. This has promoted the hiring of late night security patrols (abandoned due to the prohibitive cost as only a few were able to contribute), citizen patrols and family patrolling of farm properties. These all prove to be ineffective as none these groups have the police powers needed to be effective and even when crimes have been witnessed the response is not there as there are no police on duty at these times. One of the serious consequences here is that citizens are being exposed to criminal elements that they have no tools or training to deal with. These encounters (mostly driven by addiction) can have devastating legal or safety concerns as one local farmer found out after being attacked.
The residents are being told that night patrolling will not solve the problem. By that logic checking for impaired or distracted drivers is not solving those problems either, but it is increasing public safety and reducing the frequency of occurrences.
Many communities are feeling abandoned by the limited directional input they have over the police resources they pay for. This is leading some communities to explore the option of creating their own municipal force Richmond, and now Surrey being two of the latest. Combining this with the high cost of the RCMP model has led other areas to change to municipal policing; these include Victoria, Sanich, Vancouver, New Westminster, Abbotsford, and smaller areas like Delta, White Rock, and Nelson.
Oliver also has the Provincial Prison which eats hours from the local police budget. Most people do not realize that correction officers cannot investigate a crime that is the responsibility of the RCMP along with other duties related to the prison this adds up through the year.
There are also considerable differences in policing costs to residents of a smaller communities compared to a larger center like Penticton. A population increase from 4,999 to 5,001 creates a large jump in the tax rate costing formula and this puts extreme financial duress on the citizens until the population increases considerably. In the case of Oliver that is approximately a 10% increase.
It is the duty and responsibility of those that control the public coffers to be diligent in assuring that the tax payer receives the most economical and best value for their tax dollar. That can only be accomplished by investigating the pros and cons of both systems and conducting talks with Areas “A and “C”, the towns of Oliver, Osoyoos and the OIB. When all the facts and participants are established then this would have to go to referendum by the taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill and receive the services provided.
It may well be that the RCMP are the best model but if we do not look at the options we will not know.
This discussion has been going on for some time now in political circles and it is now time to start researching these options in a more serious fashion.