A new report suggests Kelowna RCMP ranks need to swell by 84

Report: City underpoliced

A new report expected to be released Monday suggests the City of Kelowna needs to add dozens of RCMP members and civilian positions over the next five years.

Similar to the 2012 Prosser Report, the latest Griffiths and Pollard review says the city is woefully underpoliced.

The city has added 40 officers since the release of the Prosser report, which recommended 35 officers be added through 2017.

The new report, which looks at policing needs through 2025, suggests the city needs to add 56 RCMP members and an additional 28 civilian positions.

"Since the Prosser Report in 2012, our environment has changed. Our population has increased by 15,000 residents and the opioid crisis has swept across North America, including Kelowna," deputy city manager Joe Creron says in a report for city council.

"Our consultant was also asked to pay attention to our significant influx in tourists which is in the order of two million visitors annually and most visit between May 1 and Oct. 1 each year. Comparing us to similar population sized cities is not applicable unless they have a significant tourist population."

The latest report suggests there are a number of significant gaps in the Kelowna detachment’s capacities.

"The detachment is understaffed on both the sworn and civilian side, resulting in a significant impact on the ability of the detachment to ensure the safety and security of the community," the report states. "It is also placing the mental health of detachment personnel at risk."

Of the 56 member positions recommended, 24 would be for general duty officers, 10 for investigations, six foot patrol officers, five school resource officers and four each for neighbourhood policing and general investigations.

Civilian positions would include five watch support officers, four record clerks, three analysts and two in transcription and court liaison.

"The project team found that the Kelowna detachment has a strong senior management team and dedicated and professional sworn and civilian members," the report concluded. "The project team’s overall impression, however, is that time and events have caught up with the City of Kelowna, and municipal and police leadership must address many 'big city' challenges."

Fifty-six member officers would cost about $9.7 million. Policing was the city's largest expenditure in 2019, costing taxpayers about $33.4 million.

City staff are expected to bring forth a strategy to deliver RCMP services in the new year. In the meantime, council will review some immediate policing requests during its provisional budget deliberations, Dec. 12.

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