A lack of RCMP resources that left schools without a leading force has rounded up some concern.
Const. Kathy Szoboticsanec, school liaison officer, traditionally works with students, parents and teachers battling issues ranging from bullying to drug and alcohol use.
In the summer months she works general duty with the detachment, but this year her departure from the schools was extended into the start of the school year.
“This year, we were down in numbers and due to operational demands, they had to keep me on the watch,” said Szoboticsanec, who fully returned to her work with the schools Sept. 19. “I have been fielding some calls from the schools however, I just have not made my usual ‘rounds.’”
Although she has since returned to her school post, Coldstream is fearful that local students suffered from the shift in positions.
“That concerns me,” said Coun. Maria Besso. “We all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
“We should voice our support for the school liaison officer being available to the schools at the beginning of the year from now on,” said Besso, who prompted council to write a letter to the local RCMP detachment.
While Coun. Doug Dirk agreed to send the letter, he isn’t sure if Coldstream’s request will make much of a difference in police operations.
“We’re not going to determine their priorities, they’re going to determine their own priorities.”
The detachment, which has 106 members, is operating with approximately 20 fewer officers due to maternity/paternity leave, injuries, etc.
In light of having fewer members, concerns have also been raised that people aren’t reporting crimes because they believe they won’t ever be investigated.
Warren Smith, rural program co-ordinator for the Safe Communities Unit, confirms that many incidents go unreported.
“So we’re not even aware that it’s taking place,” said Smith. “If people actually take the time to report it, it becomes a statistic, it becomes a red flag.”