RCMP operating with fewer staff

Despite lack of resources, officers are still effectively beating crime

Despite a lack of resources putting a strain on local RCMP resources, officers are still effectively beating crime.

Out of 101 members in the North Okanagan detachment, the RCMP is currently down 23.

“It makes it very tight,” said Superintendent Reg Burgess.

“When we get reduced by that amount we have to adjust the service levels.”

For example, there’s currently limited resources for dog handlers due to leaves.

“Our police dog section has dwindled down a bit,” said Burgess. “We’re currently operating with only one of the three dog masters.”

While Burgess is admittedly uncomfortable having that many members away, he hopes to see those numbers change over the next few months.

“We have some light at the end of the tunnel with people coming back from injuries and maternity/paternity leaves.”

While resources are tight, the local RCMP detachment is still making a dent in area crime.

For the last quarter (April to June 2013) there was a six per cent drop in criminal code offences and a 12.6 per cent decline in property crime.

Officers have also stepped up their road presence by increasing road checks by 60 per cent. Traffic enforcement remained consistent at 97 per cent of last year’s quarterly results, which were the highest recorded in many years.

And through it all, no major accusations have been filed against the RCMP.

“We don’t have too many complaints against us at the moment.”

In fact, several officers have earned awards for their efforts, including three members claiming a spot on Alexa’s Team for impaired charges.

“They make it pretty well every year,” said Burgess of the trio.

Another area officers are keeping an eye out for is distracted driving (ie. use of cell phones while driving).

“We are finding that it is in fact causing more accidents than we thought.”

After presenting the quarterly reports to Coldstream council Monday evening, one councillor was shocked to learn about the lack of resources.

“That’s significant, that’s a quarter,” said Coun. Maria Besso, who suggested that the funds Coldstream saves when there is a decline in officers be used towards targeting speeders on Kalamalka Road.

“That’s probably the single most greatest thing people comment on,” said Besso of the stretch between Kal Beach and Highway 6 at the Coldstream Ranch.

Coldstream will examine the possibility of having photo radar installed on Kalamalka Road in the future.

“Obviously the RCMP is stretched so they can’t necessarily deal with it themselves,” said Besso.

After a personal experience with a break and enter in his wife’s car, Coun. Gyula Kiss also raised issue of B&Es.

“Car B&Es are some of the most prolific things we deal with,” said Burgess. “They (thieves) can do 15 to 20 cars in an evening.”

And as Kiss pointed out, even hiding valuables in the trunk doesn’t deter them all – some thieves are using technology to decode car locks and break into vehicles.

“It is possible,” said Burgess.