As we head into the May long weekend, there are staff disruptions at the Kelowna RCMP.
Insp. Adam MacIntosh, the detachment's most prominent officer behind the commander, is on a leave of absence for an unspecified duration, effectively immediately.
“I recognize and understand that the unexpectedness of this news may cause a variety of reactions," said detachment commander Supt. Kara Triance in recent a memo to officers.
"Please take care of yourselves. Remember that our detachment has built a very good resource library for wellness and resiliency information. Our mental health is important. You are important,”
BC RCMP director of communications Dawn Roberts tells Castanet the Kelowna detachment, like many in the province, is dealing with a 20% job vacancy rate.
"Kelowna has been dealing with concerns internally and publicly about their vacancies and workloads. Supt. Triance and her senior team have discussed these challenges with their employees and the Southeast District Commander and his team, and even developed solutions to address the needs both in the short-term and long-term," Roberts said.
The number-two ranked Mountie in B.C., assistant commissioner Eric Stubbs, paid a visit to the Kelowna detachment on May 3 to provide support on the issue, and even spent time on the night shift.
As a result of that visit, BC RCMP brass is now actively looking for solutions to help solve chronic staffing shortages that are leaving some members burnt out. Police in Kelowna have been dealing with a number of challenging files recently that have impacted officers, including the stabbing of a member.
"Kelowna is experiencing vacancy levels that are unfortunately common throughout the province of about 20%. This includes short and long-term medical leave due to illness or injuries, maternity/paternity leave and leave without pay. A number of our detachments are shifting resources and even collapsing plainclothes units to ensure we have the necessary resources on the frontline," Roberts says.
Plainclothes units typically focus on drugs, organized crime and prolific offenders.
Roberts says officers are under increasing pressure, with crimes becoming more sophisticated requiring new tools and skills to investigate. The BC RCMP reports calls for service have increase 12% in the last decade.
"When it comes to addressing workload and vacancies, Kelowna RCMP has shifted some proactive resources to ensure that files of the most serious nature, including benchmark offences, are adequately resourced. Supt. Triance continues to ensure quality of investigative work, with a focus on provincial policing standards and National Inquiry recommendations, to ensure the highest priority of resources are dedicated to these files," Roberts said.
RCMP brass stress that Kelowna has and will continue to take the necessary steps to address the health and welfare of its members.
"The Kelowna RCMP Community Safety Unit remains dedicated to their mandate and no changes to their focus on downtown and priority spaces has been made. Additional resources are also being secured from around the province to address some of the seasonal peaks and needs that Kelowna normally deals with and are expected this summer as travel and tourism returns to the area," says Roberts.
Regardless of the staffing crunch Supt. Kara Triance says Mounties will be on patrol in priority areas, including downtown, over the long weekend.
“Our officers are ready for another summer season,” said Supt. Triance in a statement. “This is the time of year when our police officers most proudly serve as we showcase our vibrant city and all it has to offer to visitors and locals alike.”