Vernon and North Okanagan News
Population rises, protection drops
According to the latest census figures, Vernon's population has grown by more than 3,000 people since 2006 while the number of police officers in the city has declined.
Since 2009 the city's RCMP force has dropped by three members, from 53 to 50.
That number is expected to drop to 48 later this year after a decision by Vernon City Council to eliminate more than $400,000 from the RCMP's 2013 budget.
Vernon's top cop, Superintendent, Reg Burgess, says less officers means less protective services the RCMP will be able to provide the citizens.
Burgess says when he arrived in Vernon three years ago the city had a compliment of 53 uniformed officers.
"At that time I had a uniformed downtown and I had a municipal traffic unit. I was cut down to 50 and I lost my traffic unit," says Burgess.
"Now I'm losing two more bodies so that could be the downtown patrol if I can't figure out another way to save it."
Saving it would mean finding approximately $417,000 or hope the city has a change of heart.
Burgess says the cost of policing in Vernon has increased by nearly 6 per cent because of provisions in the RCMP contract.
That contract requires the city to pay an additional $6,550 per member.
"All of those costs are out of my control so, what is in my control is a reduction in proactive policing that we do which would be undercover operations and extra foot patrols and human resource levels," says Burgess.
"That's about $413,00 and that equates to bodies."
Burgess says he will do what he can with the resources and budgets available, but states core services - response for calls will be protected.
"We're beyond where we can do more with less. It means a cut in police services. We'll do our best to keep maintaining the level of service and the best policing we can," says Burgess.
"That's a big hit to us. That's three-and-a-half people - that's a lot of work."
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