Penticton RCMP’s top cop said with the detachment at full staffing levels they now will be able to do a major crackdown on property crime in the city, especially in the downtown core.
“The very exciting part for me, and certainly for my management team, is that we are at full staffing levels and that is bit of an anomaly for well over five years. The last two members come in at the end of April and another couple to the South Okanagan at the end of this month. It is great news, without the staffing levels we can’t meet the priority levels put to us,” said Superintendent Ted De Jager.
De Jager said violent crime in Penticton and the South Okanagan is low, however property crime is high which is why they are setting a priority on targeting prolific offenders. As well, a downtown liaison officer and centralized office (in the 200 block of Main Street, beside Blenz) for the Community Safety and Enforcement Team are another part of the strategy to combat crime in the core of the city. A full time downtown officer will have a secondary role of engaging with youth, including the YES Project and Foundry. Once the downtown office is fully opened, the RCMP remote office at Okanagan Lake (beside the Peach concession) will close.
“We have heard everybody loud and clear. We heard council loud and clear about the priority and council has heard us loud and clear that we need resources to do that. The downtown officer was approved last year and another member approved this year to go on the drug section which will target, not necessarily the people you see on the street, but the people dealing that misery. Those are the people benefitting from it and those are the people we will be targeting. They will go to jail and the people that suffer will go to treatment, that is the best case scenario we are looking for,” said De Jager.
Starting in May, the RCMP presence in the downtown core will be ramping up — including having traffic patrols. De Jager said the traffic team already pulled three impaired drivers off the streets in one night earlier this week. The Community Safety and Enforcement Team, which also will be patrolling beaches and the KVR trail, has been slowly building up their staffing levels and have been working in the downtown core for over a year. De Jager said their work has helped reduce nuisance related calls in the core, along with the homeless shelters running full time.
“Last winter (shelters) closed and everyone went out on the street and downtown businesses bore the brunt of that, as did the south side of the town. With the shelters running full time and providing meals to a lot of those people … they have all been housed. Full disclosure, at the end of the month those shelters close and those people will be back on the street but good news is the housing projects that the city and BC Housing have been supporting will be coming online as well. There might be a bit of a lag there with construction but I think we can see the effect the shelters have had,” said De Jager.
While speaking at the Downtown Penticton Association annual general meeting on Thursday morning, De Jager said RCMP are also encouraging engagement from businesses and residents alike by setting up block watch initiatives in neighbourhoods.
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