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Penticton council calls special meeting to deal with policing crisis

Penticton staff sergeant says officers spread thin and only doing reactive policing this summer
Penticton police spread thin, only doing reactive policing in summer 2021. (File photo)

Penticton city council is holding a special meeting about the need for more police officers on Thursday, July 29.

This comes after the safety and security advisory committee meeting learned how ‘spread thin’ Penticton officers are this summer.

The special meeting will be held over Zoom on July 29 at 1 p.m. to discuss adding five more officers to Penticton.

“We are very busy and have collapsed several units just to deal with the amount of calls we are getting,” Penticton RCMP Sgt. Kirsten Marshall told the safety committee.

“We are not able to provide visibility in the downtown and are just doing reactive policing right now,” said Marshall.

She cites a big increase in calls this summer over last.

“We are getting 40 per cent more calls. There are a lot of visitors to our town right now and we are spread quite thin,” she said.

The Penticton Detachment currently has an authorized strength of 50 officers, with two more that have not yet arrived but were budgeted for in the 2021 budget.

Part of the goal of calling for the special meeting instead of waiting for November and December’s budget deliberations for 2022 is to begin the process, if council approves, of getting the new officers as soon as possible.

According to the city of Penticton, once requests for officers are made, they generally take between eight to 16 months to arrive.

That time period has tended towards the longer side after the RCMP training centre in Regina closed due to the pandemic. The RCMP’s only training facility has been slowly re-opening since May 2020.

Penticton’s Supt. Brian Hunter has previously described the caseload that officers in Penticton face as “unsustainable”, with officers handling on average 170 cases at a time.

READ MORE: Penticton’s RCMP caseload ‘unsustainable,’ says Superintendent

One small business owner shared his ‘disturbing’ experience with crime since moving to the downtown area last September.

He sent an email to the Downtown Penticton Association to say he’s had his business broken into four times and his home once since opening a few months ago.

What is most disturbing about his case, is the thieves who broke into his home tried to extort him threatening him with personal information about his family. When he called Penticton RCMP, he didn’t receive any support initially.

Mayor John Vassilaki said the safety of citizens has and is his top priority.

“I have heard from citizens that they are willing to pay more on their taxes to feel safe in their homes,” said Vassilaki on Monday.

READ MORE: Guns, cash and ramming police; a day in the life of Penticton officer

READ MORE: Industrial area businesses constantly broken into

To view the meeting live, or to ask a question using telephone or Zoom, use the links appearing Thursday at the top of

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