Homelessness, mental health and addictions issues and traffic concerns were what most people wanted to talk about over morning coffee with Penticton RCMP.
“You’ll always here me say the solution to homelessness is housing and I think people would agree to that, but the issue with addictions and mental health issues isn’t policing. We’re a part of that, but we need to engage with all of our partners, which we do. We have great parnters in this community and in all our South Okanagan communities from Interior Health to school districts to B.C. Housing,” Insp. Ted De Jager detachment commander of Penticton South Okanagan Similkameen Regional Detachment.
“With addictions, are police going to stop addictions? No, that’s not our job. Police are going to target the drug dealers, the drug users are just as much victims as everyone else.”
About 30 people came in during the two-hour “coffee with a cop” event at Starbucks on Main Street Wednesday.
De Jager said efforts to do community outreach is making an impact.
“It’s just about building that connection. We want people to know, if they need help or they have a question, they can come to us anytime, so we encourage people to call 911 or our non-emergency number, but we also encourage them just to talk and give us an idea of what their concerns are,” he said.
De Jager said he understands there are always some in people in communities that express frustration with timeframes for police response when they call, but emphasized their calls are important.
“If you don’t call us we won’t come. It seems obivous, but ufortuantely there is some people out there that say they don’t even bother calling the police anymore and that’s not helpful. We need them to call us because that’s how we target and how we determine where we have issues,” he said.
He noted the detachment has a policy that all calls must be followed, even if that is with a phone call the next morning.
“People who say I called the police and they didn’t come and if that’s the case they need to talk to me or my senior staff. The response from us might to be make a phone call the next day, but we must follow up,” he said.
De Jager said another coffee with a cop will be held at another coffee shop somewhere in the South Okanagan in September. Details will be released closer to the date.
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