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Crimestoppers boss worried restructuring could axe his job

Crime Stoppers may be in for a dramatic makeover that would handcuff the program’s effectiveness, its co-ordinator warned Thursday.

Al Sismey told a committee of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen the head of the Penticton RCMP detachment has expressed a desire to scale back his position and combine it with another.

“I understand there’s going to be a presentation that the police want this position remarried with crime prevention,” Sismey said.

That shift, he explained afterwards, would be the latest fallout from a $40,000 cut to the city’s police budget this year that led to the elimination of a civilian community policing co-ordinator position.

Those duties will be handed over to an RCMP officer, who would also take on Crime Stoppers, according to Sismey.

He said eliminating the separation between the police and Crime Stoppers would be a mistake.

“We maintain an arm’s-length association with the police, not because we don’t like the police, but (because) it’s out of necessity,” Sismey said.

“If we’re an arm of the police our information isn’t as well-protected and we couldn’t stand up in front of anybody and say, ‘You can call us anonymously.’”

Sismey also said his Crime Stoppers branch received 376 tips last year, making it a full-time job in combination with other duties like fundraising and community relations.

“I put in a lot more than 35 hours a week at this job,” said Sismey.

Crime Stoppers is a regional program funded solely by the RDOS at a cost of $65,000 a year in addition to cash from fundraising efforts.

Penticton Mayor Garry Litke, whose questions prompted Sismey to reveal the uncertainty around his job, suggested the RCMP can’t unilaterally restructure an independent position that’s funded by the RDOS.

“How can they do that if we’re the boss? As far as I’m aware there has been no consultation with this board about that particular move,” said Litke, who’s also an RDOS director.

Penticton RCMP Insp. Kevin Hewco was not available for comment Thursday. He’s scheduled to deliver a year-end report to the RDOS on March 20.

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