A new face is leading the charge for RCMP in Pentiction and surrounding areas.
Superintendent Brian Hunter has officially taken over as officer-in-charge of the Penticton South Okanagan Similkameen Detachment. He is the successor to the previous superintendent, Ted De Jager.
Hunter comes from the Port Alberni detachment where he was also officer-in-charge.
Officers in Penticton are faced with the highest caseload of any of the province’s RCMP-policed municipalities with a population of over 15,000. Statistics from 2018 show the Penticton detachment’s caseload tops that of Burnaby, Richmond, Kelowna and even Surrey.
“The caseload is through the roof, nearly double the provincial average,” said Hunter. “We’re going to be as efficient as we can with our resources here, to deal with the call volume that comes in, especially in the summer.
“It’s just a full-on waterfall of calls that are happening here.”
Hunter said if they had an unlimited bucket of money, it should be directed towards those with addiction and mental health issues, and get them the care they need.
“Ultimately, if that’s taken care of, crime would almost be eliminated when it comes to drug and property crime,” said Hunter.
“It’s a very dynamic, complex recipe of policing a community when it comes to medical issues that are placed on our laps; we have to deal with that, the symptoms of which is crime, we’re going to deal with that as best we can,” he said.
Hunter said he is a big proponent of not ‘arresting their way out of this’ however added that they will still enforce, they will still arrest individuals and hold them to account.
“But there’s that other component of the medical side. That’s on our lap, and quite frankly downloaded to the municipality with their limited resources to deal with the symptom of addictions and mental health.”
Hunter knows the front line as well as anyone. His 26 years in service have been spent at the detachment level. He considers himself an expert in detachment policing and community safety.
“Every single shift that I have worked, I have worn the police uniform,” he said. “I’m very much looking forward to bringing that experience to this detachment and put my flavour on enforcement.”
Hunter’s career began in Shawnigan Lake in 1994, then he went north to the small town of Telegraph Creek in 1999, and later to operations commander in Dease Lake. From there he transferred to Salmon Arm where he served as team commander. When demand for more enforcement in Dease Lake surfaced, Hunter transferred back for two years. To fulfill some professional goals he lateraled to Williams Lake as operations commander. After about 18 months, he was promoted to commander of the Oceanside detachment on the west coast where he stayed for eight years.
After his kids graduated high school Hunter was promoted to his last position at the Port Alberni detachment. He stayed there for about three years before being promoted to Penticton.
Although he’s still unpacking boxes, he said he and his family are happy to be in the South Okanagan.
“It’s really exciting when you travel to a new detachment, wherever it is, this just has the super bonus that we’re in the South Okanagan; it’s pretty amazing,” Hunter said.
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