Something has changed in Spallumcheen that the province is now insisting a fourth RCMP member be paid for by the township.
Council received a letter from Tonia Enger, executive director of policing, security and law enforcement, and director of police services, with the province’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, dated Nov.2, which was a foll0w-up to a surprise in-person meeting with township representatives in late August, reviewing police staffing levels.
“They caught us off-guard (in August) and now we get this letter saying we have to have more police,” said Mayor Janice Brown.
The township’s population reached more than 5,000 in the 2011 census, meaning it had to pay for policing for the first time ever. A minimum resource level of four members was identified for a Spallumcheen municipal unit if the township opted to contract with the province for RCMP municipal police services.
On April 1, 2012, an initial authorized strength of three regular RCMP members was identified. A reassessment took place and in June 2015, the township was told that “trends in the Criminal Code and reported offences, calls for service and service share remained similar to the 2012 resource assessment…” The province opted not to require the township to increase the number of officers but “that future assessments may occur.”
Another assessment was conducted in June of this year, with Enger saying the “current resource level is not sufficient to meet adequate and effective policing as required under the Police Act.”
“Based on the consistency of the resource assessments conducted, and consultation with the RCMP, we are at a point and time where it is essential for the township to increase the authorized strength of its municipal police unit from three regular member positions to four,” said Enger.
Which left Brown and her council scratching their heads.
“We have the third lowest crime stats in the region; we don’t have a bar in Spallumcheen; we don’t have a downtown core. We want to know what’s changed,” said Brown. “We have our facts. They have their facts.”
Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP released its 2017 third quarter statistics which show the township had 338 calls for service from July to September, an average of slightly more than 112. That’s up from 318 (106 average) over the same time period in 2016.
The neighbouring City of Armstrong had 334 calls (111 average) over the same time period this year, down from 366 calls in 2016 (122 average).
The city’s population reached 5,000 for the first time ever in the 2016 census, and Armstrong staff is currently in negotiations with the province for paying for service levels.
Brown is hoping to sit down with the province to discuss the situation further.