Carla Schumacher thinks not enough is being done to enforce traffic on the streets of Revelstoke. On Tuesday night she voiced her concerns during the Revelstoke RCMP’s public town hall. The public forum was held in the MacPherson room of the Revelstoke Community Centre. About 15 community members and five police officers were in attendance.
Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky gave an hour-long address before inviting local residents to ask questions. Schumacher was the only community member to ask a question during the approximately seven-minute question and answer period.
During his talk, Grabinsky touched on the RCMP’s budget, annual performance plan, and said the reason for calling the meeting was to address rumours and misinformation in the community.
“On social media you see a lot of responses, rumours, misinformation,” said Grabinsky. “This is an opportunity to speak some real facts, and to provide the community with an opportunity to understand what the facts are, and to clarify them.”
Speaking to the crowd gathered at the Community Centre, Staff Sgt. Grabinsky said the Revelstoke RCMP’s annual budget is $1.85 million. He said that money goes towards hiring 13 police officers, the maintenance of the local detachment and the RCMP’s vehicles.
Grabinsky further clarified that when a community is under 15,000 people about 30 per cent of that cost is covered by the provincial government. He said that annually the average cost of a police officer is $165,000.
The City of Revelstoke pays approximately 73 per cent of that cost.
Grabinsky continued by commenting on a complaint he saw on the Stoke List, an online classified page, that argued Revelstoke should have a municipal police force. The complaint said that the RCMP cost too much.
Grabinsky addressed that grievance by comparing the cost of the Revelstoke RCMP with Nelson Police Department. The NPD have 20 police officers and their budget is $3.2 million, said Grabinsky. The City of Nelson foots 100 per cent of that cost.
In addition to his comments on the budget, Grabinksy said that although he believes the public thinks that the crime rate has increased since the ski hill opened a decade ago, the rate is much the same as it was before the resort went into operation. He did, however, clarify that the Revelstoke RCMP’s call volume has increased.
In 2017, according to Grabinsky, the Revelstoke RCMP received a total of 6,683 phone calls, of which 4,431 required investigation. They also had 3,492 people come to their front counter at the detachment to air concerns or open files.
Among the cases that required investigation were 69 thefts, 98 assaults, 22 uttering threats, (in person and on-line) 55 cases related to the mental health act (which include suicidal interventions), 31 break and enters, 44 impaired drivers, 79 immediate roadside prohibition of drivers, 13 cases involving drug trafficking, 102 noise complaints, 17 sexual assaults, 21 sudden death investigations, and 275 abandoned 911 calls.
Last year, the Revelstoke RCMP responded to 973 erratic driving complaints on the Trans-Canada Highway, (which falls under their jurisdiction) 312 motor vehicle incidents, and were involved in the search for 47 missing persons.
Just past the midway point of his public address, Grabinksy expressed frustrations about the fact that some crimes that are occurring are not being reported.
He said if they aren’t reported, then the RCMP cannot respond to them.
Grabinsky pleaded with the public to report crimes, saying that local police officers care dearly about this community because they are members of it.
“This is their home. They have a vested interest in this community. They are part of it,” he said. “We’d like to think that when the yellow stripes arrive, people trust us.”
Staff Sgt. Grabinksy also addressed the opioid crisis saying that every Revelstoke RCMP officer is carrying a Naxolone kit, which counters the effects of Fentanyl, and that the RCMP is not there to charge people when they respond to an overdose call.
“If someone is overdosing, and they hesitate to call 911 — we’re not there to charge that person,” said Grabinsky. “We really want to be there to assist people in an overdose situation. That’s our job.”
Grabinksy further encouraged local residents to lock their car doors and keep valuables outside of their homes safe and secure, calling the majority of the reports the RCMP receives of theft, “crimes of opportunity.”