Whether it’s programs dedicated towards domestic violence or the recent tragedy in Armstrong, there is no question the men and women of the RCMP serve the North Okanagan well.
But beyond the dedication of the rank and file officers, the force has exposed some flaws, and particularly when it comes to managing dollars and cents.
Like many municipalities, Vernon has been handed significant bills for a records system, more officers or detachment upgrades but had little input into the process although it pays 90 per cent of the policing cost.
The situation is no fault of the local officers-in-charge as they are just the bearers of bad news and all decisions come from high-ranking RCMP officials in Vancouver or Ottawa.
That’s why the proposed 20-year contract for the RCMP to continue providing services in B.C. is welcome news.
If ratified by both sides, the deal will establish committees that oversee how services are delivered and how costs are managed. And, most importantly, municipalities have finally been given a seat at the table.
Many of the items the RCMP seek financial support for may be justified and help improve public safety, but there has to be open communication and transparency with municipalities over population 5,000 that are responsible for a portion of the cost. Local taxpayers can’t be seen as an endless source of funds.
Ultimately, though, the most positive aspect of the proposed contract is officers have certainty about their positions and they can continue to remain an active part of the community.