Vernon RCMP seek addition of exhibit custodian to clear backlog of 1,600 files

Huge RCMP file backlog

A major backlog at Vernon's RCMP detachment has left 1,600 exhibit files incomplete.

The detachment is seeking the addition of a temporary exhibit custodian to deal with the issue.

A report to city council states: "In order to deal with an increased exhibit file backlog, evolving exhibit handling processes and new federal regulations for seized firearms being held by police, a one-year temporary exhibit custodian position is being requested."

The custodian would be responsible for the safe keeping and storage of all seized property along with preserving the continuity of evidence in support of court cases.

The position would control the movement, storage, and disposition/destruction of all detachment exhibits.

"This position controls and monitors all exhibit documentation for accuracy and adherence to criminal law and RCMP policies. The exhibit custodian responds to inquiries from the general public and returns seized property at the direction of the investigator," the report states.

The custodian would also conduct quality assurance audits on files containing exhibits, as well as making recommendations for training and education of members.

"lt is becoming more and more difficult to find the time to complete these reviews to improve best practices or to provide the training to police," the report adds.

"There has been changes to the processes for exhibits held for destruction, new registration databases for firearms seized by police and the requirement to carefully process high-potency drugs like fentanyl for destruction. These increasing duties and responsibilities have led to quality assurance work being left undone as there simply isn't the capacity to complete all of the required tasks in the course of the day with only one person."

The capacity deficit is contributing to a backlog of approximately 1,600 incomplete files, with 800 of those requiring attention in the near future, the detachment says.

The position is currently vacant as the former custodian has moved into a different role.

The temporary position is expected to cost $85,000 for 12 months.

Funds would come from the RCMP Contingency Reserve with a projected year end balance of $2,071,293.

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