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City of Revelstoke,
I have to tell you I was appalled at the casual attitude of most city councillors with regard to Revelstoke’s policing needs in the budget proceedings.
Councillors that suggest they have an inside track or have an intimate knowledge of policing merely because they have a sibling who is a veteran officer in some other jurisdiction is laughable. Same goes for expressions of empathy with regard to stress, workload, ptsd, etc. Quoting service members per population is also a very over simplistic measuring stick.
Firstly, as CAO Allan Chabot pointed out, there is a vast difference in the retirement communities of West Kelowna and Salmon Arm compared to Revelstoke.
All one has to do is casually read a newspaper and discover that criminals are dropping in here to plunder, pillage and wreak havoc. Popping windows of cars at trail heads, systematically covering whole neighbourhoods looting whatever isn’t nailed down, transporting or selling drugs, passing counterfeit bills, reckless speeders; the list goes on and on.
Police are also doing double time covering for an overworked and under staffed by-law enforcement staff, who generally are not available evenings and weekends when many nuisance calls for noise and parking violations occur.
Revelstoke also lacks a Provincial Conservation Officer, and the RCMP has almost always had to respond in this capacity as well.
Councillors look at these other town’s ratios and assume they’re making it work, so why can’t Revelstoke? Are you aware that last fall in West Kelowna there was a violent event of property damage, assault and public nuisance, reported by multiple 9-1-1 calls that required Armstrong RCMP to eventually respond, three hours later?
Did any city councillor talk to any city RCMP and make an informed decision? Was any councillor aware that the actual NEED for additional service members was put in at five, which was reduced to three, then two. But in the end just one additional member was asked for.
Revelstoke is unique with it’s geography and isolation.
It’s a ninety minute to two hour drive to the east to the next town. To the west it’s a forty five minute drive. In between those two points exist some of the most dangerous and challenging roadways in North America, given mountain passes, commercial traffic, railway, holiday traffic, drug traffic etc.
No, Revelstoke is not responsible for the Trans Canada Highway, but Revelstoke RCMP members do respond to TCH incidents, most of which are very dangerous, many of which are a very traumatic experience.
Generally when one is figuring out a budget you make a list of must haves, and nice to haves.
Ranking policing needs behind creating a new position at the city for a communications director at a salary of around $75,000 with $25,000 added to cover employee benefits is ludicrous.
The new city position sounds like a nice to have. Revelstoke is only going to get busier, and with that, the downside of that growth will grow as well.
Like it or not, we need and we must have a more publicly visible, mentally healthy police force. Perhaps the province should increase their contributions, but in the meantime, councillors need to reconsider approving merely one additional officer, when they know five are required. It’s the right thing to do.
-Brian Tobin, Revelstoke
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