Repeat offender arrested for waving hammer, shouting racism on Kelowna waterfront

22 police files and counting

The Kelowna RCMP has released information about the weekend arrest of a repeat offender as they detail the complexity of the challenges they face in dealing with street crime.

At about 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, officers were called about a man who was being confrontational with residents on the waterfront at the foot of Bernard Ave. He was allegedly waving a hammer at people while spewing racial vulgarity and was accused of causing damage to parked vehicles.

The responding officers recognized the man because he had been released from police custody earlier in the day. He also defecated in the police vehicle while being transported to cells for the second time in less than 24 hours.

The Kelowna RCMP say the suspect is a street-entrenched individual with at least 22 police files already in 2022, including some for violent incidents.

Police say the man is known to have mental health and substance use challenges, but has resisted community outreach supports, as well as efforts to connect him with housing assistance.

“This is an example of the challenges police are dealing with every day. We are continually arresting individuals for repeat criminal offences, but have no legal authorities to hold them in custody, and the complexities of their social and personal lives are such that we are stuck in a cycle of catch and release,” said Const. Mike Della-Paolera, Kelowna RCMP media relations officers.

The commanding officer of the Kelowna detachment spoke last week at a news conference addressing a Statistics Canada report showing Kelowna has the highest crime rate of the 35 census metropolitan areas in Canada.

When pressed about the relatively low crime rates of other tourist hot spots like Victoria and Vancouver, Supt. Kara Triance said those larger centres have far more social services.

She addressed this latest arrest by saying that Kelowna continues to invest in upstream solutions such as the Community Safety Place, “which pulls together social agencies to address those at most risk for future vulnerability and criminality, with an overall objective to increase efficiencies across systems and identify the needs to inform a proactive and preventative response to criminality in our community.

“Our police officers will continue to arrest those committing crimes, forward charges or seek alternatives and we require supports from the governments at all levels to address these social problems,” added Triance.

The man is facing four new charges for causing a disturbance, two of uttering threats, three for mischief over $5,000 and two for mischief under $ 5,000. He was scheduled for a court appearance today.

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