RCMP alarmed by cuts to city budget

The Vernon RCMP are reviewing resources after city hall reduced spending levels.

The Vernon RCMP are reviewing resources after city hall reduced spending levels.

Council has cut the number of budgeted police officers from 52 to 50 as part of the 2011 financial plan.

“We’ve been billing for 52 officers and that allows us to maintain enhanced service levels like downtown patrols,” said Supt. Reg Burgess.

“It will definitely be tight. We will have to see if we can maintain the service level with 50 officers. We will do our best to maintain the service level.”

The change from 52 to 50 officers will save about $172,000 and Coun. Jack Gilroy defends council’s decision.

“We’ve never carried that many officers. Sometimes it’s 48 or 49,” he said.

Mayor Wayne Lippert doesn’t believe there will be a significant impact to the detachment.

“We’re not losing any police officers because we’ve had 50 on average,” he said.

“There are times where we’ve had 51 officers and there are other times with 48 or 49. We’re just reflecting what we have now.”

Beyond police, the city is looking at how bylaw enforcement officers operate.

“We could trim back the hours they work,” said Leon Gous, chief administrative officer.”

Lippert doesn’t foresee reducing bylaw officers but says staff has grown in recent years.

“We brought five bylaw officers on because we didn’t have the manpower in the RCMP. We have brought RCMP levels up,” he said.

Another area of law enforcement is also being considered as part of the city budget.

“Community policing may also cut back its hours for the summer students who deal with cleaning up graffiti because there is a feeling they may be doing what businesses should be doing,” said Gous.

Lippert says there’s a fine line between reducing expenses and ensuring public safety.

“We don’t want to go backwards. We put uniforms and programs in place for a reason and council believes those reasons are still valid.”