RCMP want to hire two officers to assist with Okanagan jail workload

The case for new officers will be considered with others throughout the province during the provincial RCMP budget process.

The South Okanagan Similkameen RCMP are in pursuit of approval to hire two new officers to help with the anticipated increase in workload once the Okanagan Correctional Centre opens.

Kevin Hewco, superintendent for the South Okanagan told Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen directors at their meeting last Thursday that he’s still waiting to hear back regarding a business case he put forward for the need for additional officers.

“There is enough work there to warrant two extra officers. Crimes in the facility fall on us, DNA orders and warrants … I still believe strongly we need those two positions,” he said.

The case for new officers will be considered with others throughout the province during the provincial RCMP budget process.

It’s likely the detachment will not hear if they receive funding to hire for two new positions until next year, possibly after the facility opens.

Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes encouraged the RCMP to collect data on additional work after the facility opens to strengthen a business case if needed.

Recent crime stats released last week stated Kelowna was the second worst area in Canada with regards to the crime index. Directors asked Hewco if crime in Kelowna had an impact in the South Okanagan or Similkameen.

Hewco said the valley is a corridor for criminals but detachments work together and share intelligence and meet regularly.

“They (criminals) work the entire the valley. The same guys that are working here are working there, you betcha,” he said.

Quarterly crime numbers for communities in the RDOS were also released at the meeting.

No discernible trend throughout the South Okanagan Similkameen was evident in the numbers, Hewco said.

“We’ve suffered some significant property crime pressure throughout the last year and that continues although there has been some headway,” he said.

In the Penticton detachment areas, which include Penticton, Apex, Kaleden, West Bench and Naramata and Okanagan Falls, there has overall been an increase of drug files. Hewco said the increase could be attributed to more plainclothes officers being on the road.

There has also been a shift from business break and enters to residential break and enters which are possibly perceived as lower risk by offenders, as many businesses have video surveillance.

Keremeos is seeing the same trend with residential break and enters up and businesses down.

The town of Princeton saw the opposite trend with an increase in break and enters to businesses between April and June.

Hewco said the 12 break and enters in that quarter occurred mostly in a two-week period.

The suspects have since been apprehended and charged.

Over in Summerland only four businesses suffered a break and enter in the last quarter, which is down from the average, but the number is still up from last year with a total of 16 businesses broken into so far in 2016. In 2015 there were only eight.