The Town of Oliver is searching for answers after three separate gun-related crimes, including a fatal shooting, have taken place in the month of June, 2020. The town’s mayor suggests solutions will come by helping youth at risk. (File photo)

Oliver needs to deal with ‘root causes’ of violent crime: mayor

“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” says Mayor Martin Johansen

The mayor of Oliver is speaking out and promising change after a rash of gun violence descended on the town.

Oliver’s mayor, Martin Johansen said the town is feeling frustrated and concerned after the shootings.

“No one likes to hear about violent crime in their community.”

An investigation into a fatal shooting in Oliver on June 13 remains ongoing. Police believe the incident is drug-related.

READ MORE: RCMP investigate fatal shooting in Oliver

Then two days following the shooting death, on June 15, two men were charged in connection with a non-fatal shooting inside a residence along the 5500 block of Yarrow Street.

At the start of the month on June 2, Oliver and Osoyoos RCMP responded to reports of gunshots fired near a residence on Pine Ridge Drive in Oliver. Three men allegedly involved have been arrested for firearms offences, while one is also facing drug-related charges.

None of the incidents are believed to be related.

READ MORE: Oliver man injured in town’s second shooting in three days

Johansen said the Town of Oliver is working to put measures in place to combat this “concerning” trend.

The mayor identified four main ways the town plans to mitigate violent crime.

In early 2019, the town established a public safety and crime prevention committee. The committee is currently looking into adding additional RCMP resources.

However, several years ago the town put in a request for additional RCMP officers but the request was denied by the province.

“We have to figure how to get more out of our RCMP resources,” said Johansen.

To make the most out of the RCMP resources available, the Town of Oliver has put various measures in place to free up RCMP officers to deal with violent crimes rather than spending time on more trivial matters, explained the mayor.

These measures include beefing up their bylaw services to respond to frequent “nuisance” properties.

The town also increased funding for victim services.

The mayor also said Oliver will soon have a “task table” that will tackle stopping crime at the root of the problem.

“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem. We need to deal with the root causes. When we talk to the RCMP, they’re telling us a lot of the root causes … of the property crimes and violent crimes are addiction.”

Johansen believes finding a solution starts with getting the youth connected to social services before they fall through the cracks.

“We’re not going to solve this issue by just arresting people, we’ve got to engage people when we can get them connected with the services they need when they’re first starting to have touch-points with the RCMP.”

South Okanagan RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey said that the RCMP is doing everything in its power to investigate the recent incidents and prevent future violent crime in the Town of Oliver.

“We’re taking each of these situations very seriously … it doesn’t appear as though any of those incidents are related but, of course, they are concerning. Investigators are taking it very seriously and putting all their efforts into fully investigating each individual case.”

The population of the Town of Oliver, according to a 2016 census, was 4,419.

READ MORE: Three arrests on guns, drug charges after shots fired in Oliver



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

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