Mayor Tom Dyas says Kelowna being named one of 12 B.C. communities to be a hub of police, prosecutors and probation officers focused on tackling repeat violent offenders is welcome news.
“It’s something that not only this community, but many communities throughout the province have been asking for,” he said.
Kelowna has been plagued by several repeat offenders.
“We have 20 individuals that have had 3,500 to 3,600 negative contacts with the RCMP, added Dyas. “Regrettably there isn’t the ability of the RCMP or bylaw to be able to deal with those individuals properly.”
Dyas added that while many details of the program are still to come, the city is looking to expedite the Kelowna hub.
“I am aware that it is to be up and running in Nanaimo by the middle of May. Our hope is at that same time, or shortly thereafter, it will be up and running in this community.”
The 12 hubs are part of the province’s Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative and will be located in four regions; the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Interior and northern B.C.
“It is bringing into our community the ability to deal with the court system, probation officers and the Crown, to deal specifically with repeat offenders. Not only Kelowna, but the Okanagan area.”
BC United leader Kevin Falcon, who visited Kelowna on April 13, told Capital News that Premier David Eby oversaw a “catch and release” program when he was the attorney general.
“That results in repeat offenders being released back into the community, often the same day they’re arrested.”
The rights of the community must come before the rights of a violent repeat offender, Falcon added.
The initiative will also be supported by a new Special Investigation and Targeted Enforcement (SITE) program.
The province is investing $16 million over three years so law enforcement can strengthen targeted investigations of repeat violent offending cases and improve information sharing between police agencies.