It wasn’t even his first day on the job and the new top dog at the South Okanagan Similkameen Regional RCMP detachment was in the hot seat trying to answer budgetary questions.
Superintendent Ted De Jager, detachment commander for the region attempted to address concerns related to the possible unionization of RCMP officers at the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen meeting Thursday.
De Jager, who officially starts next week, said he was not sure how collective bargaining, if a union was formed, might affect the police budget for the region or in communities throughout the nation.
“We have no way of knowing what the collective agreements might be,” he said.
De Jager said he could not comment on whether police here in the Okanagan make more or less that those on municipal forces or in larger cities and the budgetary implications would be determined through the collective bargaining if that was to take place.
“It’s something the RCMP has never done before. It’s something that will be happening in the coming months.”
Two years ago Mounties earned the right to form a union. Recently the National Police Federation alleged that the RCMP is interfering with their rights to association by prohibiting groups from communicating directly with officers over work email.
De Jager did say he won’t condone any alterations of RCMP uniforms. Some officers throughout the country have removed the yellow stripe on their pants as a protest that all officers should be compensated equally.
“I know that there has been some public protest… We don’t endorse any type of protest like that,” he said.
During questions De Jager was asked his opinion on hiring new officers straight out of police training.
He noted at his last detachment 15 per cent of his force were new officers.
“I’m a very firm believer in taking on junior members. You won’t find a more enthusiastic member than someone right out of depot,” he said.
De Jager also said new recruits stay in communities for five years and that could provide some stability for the regional forces.