Cache Creek and Ashcroft have responded to a shortage in RCMP officers at the Ashcroft Detachment by looking for ways to encourage RCMP officials and the provincial government to quickly appoint replacements.
In his annual report to the village councils, Sgt. Dave Prentice noted that retirements, transfers, secondment and parental leave have reduced the General Duty side of the Detachment from five officers to three, and Traffic Services from six officers to two for at least the next few months.
Prentice said the three GD officers in the Detachment, which includes himself, are required to provide 48 on-duty hours per day, which may result in some crankiness over time, he added.
Statistics comparing 2009 to 2010 shows the number of calls answered by the Detachment have risen slightly by two per cent, averaging 4.5 calls per day.
One statistic that stands out, he told Cache Creek Council, was the number of mental health calls. He said much of the members’ time has been spent recently with people who have nowhere else to go. They need help and so they act out in such a way as to get the attention of the police. He said the mental health issue is really tying up their resources, especially when they have to transport them to Kamloops for psychiatric evaluation. Every trip to Kamloops takes an officer out of the community for at least two hours.
Prentice said the mental health issue is one of five priorities they hope to work on in their 2011/12 Annual Performance Plan. He said the focus will be on speaking to other service providers in the community to see what resources are or could be available to these people.
Substance abuse education will be a priority again, as well as safe roads. He said the new drinking and driving and speed legislation have created widespread awareness. The laws haven’t changed, just the punishment. “We don’t see drinking and driving offenders the way we used to,” he said.
Other priorities in the Plan will include keeping tabs on public offenders in the community, building relations with First Nations communities and meeting with local services to discuss Municipal Emergency Preparedness.
Cache Creek Council agreed to send a letter to the Solicitor General demanding action on staff levels.
“Recently the small communities have been required to pay roughly 50 per cent of their policing costs,” said Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta. “I haven’t heard of any initiatives on the part of the province to reduce the cost to the villages to match the reduction in officers.”
The letter will request either a reduction in policing costs charged to them or a focus on replacing the officers to justify that cost.
Cache Creek will also present a resolution to the membership of the Southern Interior Local Government Association regarding how the lack of mental health services in the communities present a staffing challenge to RCMP and Interior Health.
Ashcroft Council will send a letter to the RCMP South East District voicing their concerns and asking for assistance.