Pressure continues to mount on the local police detachment serving the area around the Okanagan Correctional Centre.
Since its opening in January, 58 police calls have been received from the provincial jail, directors on the board of the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen heard at their regular meeting Thursday.
The reasons for the calls range from assaults inside the jail to requests to perform DNA and fingerprinting.
At this point the correctional centre is less than half-filled with inmates so the workload is expected to substantially increase, said Kirsten Marshall, Staff Seargeant, acting officer in charge of the RCMP South Okanagan Similkameen Regional Detachment.
“A reservist is going once a week to do a lot of the DNA and fingerprinting … (that may) increase to two or three days a week … as other issues come up. We’re now relying a reservist to do this,” Marshall said.
Prior to the jail being built the regional detachment developed and filed a business case multiple times to the province to prove the need for an additional two officers at the Oliver detachment to cover off the increase in calls that were anticipated.
Marshall said the business plan used examples from other communities that have a provincial jail and their increased calls for service.
However, she stated, the task force that makes the decision wants hard data from the community requesting the increase in officers.
“Now as the data is coming we have something more tangible,” she said.
Ron Hovanes, mayor of Oliver noted the detachment is already operating with less than a full compliment.
“They’re understaffed as is,” he said.
He said during the process of determining where the jail would be located that projections suggested 400 to 500 calls for service would be received a year.
“That’s like a whole office to look after corrections,” he said.
He noted that he continues to hold on to a letter from the attorney general that states there would be an increase in policing services as part of the provincial component.
“We’re going to keep pushing. I don’t want to see our local detachment that’s already under stress,” he said, adding, “I can see it being a real concern and we feel we need to be there to support them.”