Being constantly “yanked” away from their communities has the Oliver and Osoyoos RCMP moving back to standalone detachments.
“To be honest, it’s a bit more complicated the way we have to do things and maybe not as efficient,” said Sgt. Kevin Schur, area commander from the Osoyoos RCMP detachment. “The biggest benefit I think that the community will see is that when the members are only working here we are going to have that free time. We are not going to be sending them to work in Oliver or wherever the work is.”
Schur addressed the change at the Osoyoos town council meeting on Monday. He said that for the past 10 years the two detachments have been working as an integration within a regional model, with Princeton, Keremeos, Summerland, Oliver and Penticton all operating individually. Now the six constables, one corporal and Schur will be able to make decisions and plan ahead for just their own detachment.
“We are going to have that free time to do community policing so we can get out there and go for a walk downtown and talk to people, do the beach walk and that kind of stuff. Things, that to be honest, we just haven’t had the time to do because there is always something going on between Oliver and Osoyoos and we just send the members there,” said Schur.
According to the second quarter statistics, Osoyoos RCMP have seen a 20 per cent increase in calls. Schur said that is mainly due to the number of initiatives, including enhanced enforcement nights. Over the busy summer, Osoyoos RCMP didn’t have any sex assault calls come in or any in-depth investigation work on serious charges.
“That is quite amazing because usually there is quite a number of them with the number of tourists we get in town, transient workers and just the volume of people we have here. I would like to think that would be the police presence out there. When you have police all around at the beaches and whatnot, it curtails some of that,” said Schur.
With the separation and expected free time officers will have, Schur said they are looking forward to working with the U.S. Border Patrol on marine patrols of Osoyoos Lake. The two agencies will be partnering up next boating season to do more checks on the water.
“They are going to be clamping down on their side quite a bit as far as people crossing the lake and we will be doing the same on our side,” said Schur.
According to the RCMP officer, the Americans are not allowing anyone to cross the border on the water. Coming the other way, Americans are supposed to report to Canadian Border Services Agency immediately. In previous years it was a bit of grey area, where boats would cross the border, and as long as they didn’t stop, meet with others or the people get out and touch land, it was dismissed.
“That is changing … they have already done that in Eastern Canada and west of us like at Ross Lake in Chilliwack. It has been used quite extensively for smuggling of drugs and other things. Because of that, the U.S. Border Patrol has taken the stance where they are going to enforce it quite a bit,” said Schur, adding the initiative will start with a educational blitz with officers handing out warnings before they enforce the issue.
The split between Osoyoos and Oliver detachments is expected to come on Dec. 1.
“I think it’s refreshing where we are going with the standalone offices,” said Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells.