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Police and public blenz at North Okanagan coffee-based initiative

Coffee with a Cop hosted at Blenz Coffee, as the RCMP looked to recruit new members
Members of several RCMP detachments from across the province descended to Vernon and Armstrong for Coffee with a Cop, an initiative meant to recruit new officers, and break down barriers between the public and law enforcement on Wednesday, May 15. (Bowen Assman- Morning Star)

Walking into Blenz Coffee in downtown Vernon on Wednesday (May 15) afternoon, you’d be forgiven into thinking a major emergency just went down, as a handful of police cruisers lined the street.

However, rest assured, there was no emergency. Instead, the cheery members of the RCMP were waiting for members of the public inside the shop, for their Coffee with a Cop initiative.

“It is an effort to break down barriers between us and the public,” said Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Supt. Tory Romailler. “A lot of it was relationship building, just recognizing that we are brothers, sisters and friends to people in the community.”

The event in Vernon followed one in Armstrong, which was hosted at PV BLVD Coffee in the morning.

“I was surprised with how many people came out to it, for a community of that size,” said RCMP Const. Shawn Courtorielle. “I think it was the presence in general. Us coming there, we got to see so many people are interested in policing itself, which is great for such a small and quiet community.”

According to Courtorielle, close to 30 people turned out in Armstrong chat with officers. In addition to conversing, a huge emphasis was placed on recruiting new RCMP members.

“We actually found previous applicants here last year who are already in training in Regina,” said Courtorielle, who is a recruiter for the Lower Mainland division of the RCMP. “It just shows it is actually making a difference. It is easier for us to be one-on-one like this in a relaxed setting.”

Courtorielle also mentioned that people see a lot of negative things regarding policing so they are “trying to put it out there that we are actually here for the right reasons.”

According to Romailler, recruitment efforts are being enhanced, due to a rise in population across the province.

“COVID definitely stopped a lot of the recruiting,” he said. “Petty crime, break-ins definitely decreased during the pandemic. However, interpersonal assaults, domestic violence went up a little bit. Now, with inflation and growth of these communities, we are recruiting for more jobs as those crimes pre-COVID begin to rise again.”

Courtorielle stated that the recruitment division will continue to host these coffee events in smaller communities across the province.

“They (recruits) tend to come to us in the Lower Mainland, so having these events in smaller communities is really important,” he said. “These Vernon events have always been a success and they have done a really good job of recruiting.”

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Bowen Assman

About the Author: Bowen Assman

I joined The Morning Star team in January 2023 as a reporter. Before that, I spent 10 months covering sports in Kelowna.
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