The City of Vernon needs more cops in order to fight crime and reduce the heavy workload of RCMP officers in the local detachment, according to Supt. Jim McNamara, detachment commander.
McNamara appears before city council on Tuesday to request more than $1 million in additional funding so six officers can be added to the current 50 funded officers.
“Current and future staffing shortages, changes in crime trends, crime types and significant increases in population contribute to the pressures facing Vernon detachment in our efforts to provide service to the citizens of Vernon,” stated a blunt report to council. “The reduction of funded officer positions since 2010 and the increasing workloads over the same period have had a compounding effect on capacity and a corresponding impact on levels of service.
“This situation has had a detrimental impact on officer well-being and fatigue of personnel, further impacting available resources.”
McNamara admitted that limitations on staffing have had an impact on local morale and job satisfaction and could lead to challenges in attracting experienced police officers from other detachments to Vernon.
Figures supplied showed the huge disparity in calls for service and criminal code cases handled by Vernon officers as compared to police in nine other similarly sized communities.
- In 2016, Vernon officers handled an average of 362 calls for service, almost 23.9 per cent higher than in the other communities;
- Comparative average Criminal Code offences handled by Vernon officers was 98 compared to 74 in the other communities, more than 32.4 higher locally.
The six additional officers would be used for general duty (4), sex crimes and the prolific offender unit.
“Without an increase in the Vernon general duty compliment to match increasing demands on police resources, there will be risks to the citizens of Vernon and its police officers,” said the report.
Potential risks include:
- Greater risk to police and public safety through limited resource availability and the capacity to respond to calls for service in a timely manner;
- Inability to maintain police visibility through pro-active patrolling to deter crime;
- Reduced public confidence due to a diminished ability to maintain current service delivery levels;
- The need to collapse current enhanced units, such as Downtown Enforcement Unit (DEU), the Prolific Offender Unit (POU) and our School Resource Officer (SRO) position.
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