Quesnel City Council is expressing it’s frustration over a lack of law enforcement resources to deal with a “recent ramp up of drug-related property crimes.”.
Local politicians are sending a letter to both the Provincial and Federal Governments that includes five requests, including filling the 21 full-time positions that the city pays for.
Mayor Bob Simpson says that never happens, and at times they are down to 16…
“If we had 21 officers we would have our bike patrol, we would have our prolific offenders program, we would have our serious crimes program, we would have all of the programs that that 21 compliment is built around.”
Simpson says they were told that it would skew the numbers, something that didn’t sit well with Councillor Scott Elliott…
“To be told that to ad more bodies is going to skew statistics is an absurd statement. If you look at the extreme of last year when we had the wildfires and we had a number of RCMP officers here, i think the crime rate went down significantly because they were tasked, when they weren’t busy on other things, to talk to these people.”
Council also takes issue with the fact that the province only funds nine officers for a detachment that also has to take care of areas such as Nazko, Red Bluff and Kersley.
Simpson says they have been told that that is under review, although he says they don’t know when that review will be completed.
He says addressing those two issues alone would at least get them to where they need to get to with bodies on the ground.
The third suggestion is to increase local Crown Counsel resources and prosecute offenders in a timely manner.
Councillor Elliott says they find it frustrating, and he can’t imagine how the police feel…
“I don’t lay the blame on the RCMP at all because i can empathize with the frustration of getting the same people, arresting the same people red handed, and then they just go through our court system and they are back on the street again, so things have got to change.”
Council is also calling on the senior governments to immediately add short-term additional resources to both the RCMP and Crown Counsel to prevent the current situation from escalating further, and Mayor Simpson says they are suggesting a model based on one in Williams Lake…
“They added specific officers for aboriginal policing and they added some more resources in their downtown core. We need, and that would be one way to temporarily lift while we backfill the positions and address the inequity with the province, temporarily lift our detachment with a special task force or a special group of individuals to get in here and help us to get on top of things.”
The final recommendation is longer-term, but Council is asking that Cabinet provide additional resources to address the root causes of addiction and mental health issues.
Simpson says these are decade old problems, so no particular government is to blame.
The letter will be going to the Solicitor General and Attorney Generals of both the Provincial and Federal Governments, and it will be copied to the Premier and the Prime Minister as well as to the local MLA and MP.