Being arrested is not a crime deterrent in Kelowna, says RCMP Const. Mike Della-Paolera, community youth safety and media relations officer.
Della-Paolera said that the RCMP is continuously arresting the same repeat offenders in the city.
He explained that it feels as though the police force is spinning around a revolving door. He said that officers chase and arrest prolific offenders, only to have those who repeatedly commit crimes be released by the judicial system. Kelowna officers then have to arrest the offender all over again.
Della-Paolera said that Kelowna officers go “numb” to the continuous cycle of crime and suffering people get caught in.
He explained that many repeat offenders struggle with substance use disorders and the RCMP would like to help get them off the streets, but the resources simply aren’t there. Most people are released right back onto the streets without having the opportunity to receive help and counselling for substance use and mental health concerns.
Kelowna RCMP recently arrested a pair of repeat offenders who had a combined total of 68 recommended charges, accumulated over only two months.
On Aug. 7, the RCMP arrested a distressed,”street-entrenched” man twice. His second arrest of the day came after allegedly waving a hammer at people, causing damage to parked vehicles and spewing racial vulgarities.
“This man has generated over 22 police files this year, mostly for causing a disturbance and mischief, but also including violent and other non-violent offences,” said Della-Paolera.
He is known to Kelowna officers and suffers from mental health and substance use challenges said Della-Paolera.
During this most recent file, the man purposely defecated in the rear seat of the police vehicle.
Kelowna had the highest crime rate in the country and ranked second for crime severity in 2021.
“In my opinion, the money that is being allocated to community services isn’t being dolled out properly… It’s not being utilized properly,” said Della-Paolera.
He said that officials sitting in offices, far removed from the front lines are “comfortable” and don’t see the issues that the RCMP is facing. He said that he doesn’t blame the City of Kelowna, and knows that the mayor and councillors recognize the problem.
The Kelowna RCMP has requested additional support from the city, fueling debate about crime-management strategies in light of the upcoming civic election.
Mayoral candidate Tom Dyas announced that if elected, he would expand the Police and Crisis Team (PACT).
Current Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran responded, saying the city is well aware that the RCMP needs more support and that he is actively advocating to Interior Health for additional nursing and mental health support on PACT.
Della-Paolera said that the city needs people to step up and stop the cycle of continuous crime.