Just like many newcomers to Penticton, Kevin Hewco considered different factors about the city before making a decision to move.
Weather, outdoor recreation possibilities, community facilities and safety being some of the key things. While he can’t control Mother Nature, Hewco is committed making the community safe as the new superintendent of the Penticton RCMP detachment and regional commander for the district.
“I always remind people it is our community too. We are not only policemen here we live here, and of course we want it to be a safe place to raise a family and live,” said Hewco.
Coming to Penticton from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment where he was the commander, he not only will be stationed locally, he will be overseeing the region. Summerland, Osoyoos, Oliver, Keremeos and Princeton all have sergeants or corporals in charge.
“People will see me around their communities for sure. I will be engaging their stakeholders and leaders from time to time, more with the view to make sure we are consulting the communities for what they want in local policing priorities,” said Hewco.
One program Hewco champions is the crime-reduction philosophy.
“The jewel of that program is the prolific offender management. It has been done here in varying degrees over time with success I think, but I want to spark it up again. I was very pleased with the way it worked in my past detachments,” said Hewco.
This is where the bulk of resources are focused on the few in the community causing the most problems.
“Generally three or four per cent of the population is causing 40 to 60 per cent of police calls, so we are all over them.
“We designate them prolific offenders based on previous and current convictions and we go knock on their door serving them a piece of paper that they are designated prolific offenders.
Really that is letting them know we are here, we are going to be all over you, watch what you do or there is options available to you.”
Hewco said the RCMP partner with mental health, social services, probation, courts, crown counsel so they understand how the program works.
The individuals have the option of getting support for treatment or they end up with more charges and subsequently in jail.
The superintendent said he also will be looking into what possible impacts the Okanagan Correctional Centre will have on regional detachments during the construction phase with an influx of workers coming to the area and afterwards with inmates’ families potentially moving to be close to them.
Hewco said he also wants to have more visibility with Mounties out of their police cars to meet people and on foot and bike patrols.
Having worked in places such as Tofino, Whistler, Kelowna and Parksville during his 26-year career as a Mountie, Hewco is well-attuned to the challenges a tourism based community brings.
“I think I understand the challenges in a tourism-based environment. You want to make it attractive for people to come there but you also don’t want to engage them in such a way that deters them from coming,” said Hewco
“The bottom line for me is come down and enjoy the climate, activities and the lakes but don’t spoil it for everyone else.
“That usually happens with the overindulgence of alcohol, drug use and criminal activity and if you do that we will be all over you.
“Otherwise, come and have fun.
“We set that standard anywhere I have been before and it has worked out quite well.”
The new superintendent said he believes in engaging in a community and you may see him at the arena, kayaking, camping or up at the ski hill. In fact, Apex is where he had his first date with his wife.
“This is a beautiful community. It’s like coming home for my wife and I because we were living in Kelowna before,” said Hewco. “Police work is police work no matter where you are. There may be different priorities or seasonal things going on but I am attracted to the valley for the same reasons everyone else is.”