Vernon RCMP commander still anticipates service reduction

The RCMP insist it won’t be business as usual despite assurances from the City of Vernon.

The RCMP insist it won’t be business as usual despite assurances from the City of Vernon.

Council has approved a 1.8 per cent hike to the RCMP budget but the detachment requested a 6.7 per cent increase. The difference between the two is $413,000.

“We will have two less police officers to support proactive services,” said Supt. Reg Burgess, officer in charge of the detachment.

“I will meet with my senior team and we will have to figure out the best way to police the town.”

However, the city states the 1.8 per cent budget increase will not prevent the RCMP from providing the same level of service as in the past.

“The number of officers will be the same average number of active officers in the city over the last several years,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky in a release Thursday.

“With council’s continued emphasis on policing and safety priorities, council anticipates a continuance of the safe community trends of recent years.”

Burgess says the detachment bills the city for 50 officers and 2013 funding levels will lead to 48.

He anticipates the direct impact with fewer officers will be undercover operations on prostitution and drug activities downtown.

Burgess also suggests the detachment will have less flexibility when officers are injured or ill and members may have to be shifted away from specific initiatives like school liaison and foot patrols.

“We are aware of the importance of foot patrols but it’s feasible we may have to yank those bodies to support regular calls for service,” he said.

The city states that there will be no change in council’s public safety priorities.

“Those include the proactive community policing and development programs, downtown foot patrols, RCMP school liaison officer and the restorative justice program,” said Sawatzky in the release.

“Many of these programs are City of Vernon programs but it is the expectation of council that these will be the priorities of the Vernon RCMP.”