The long-awaited report looking at how many police officers Kelowna should have is recommending an increase in the size of the local force.
Consultant Robert Prosser says it will take 15.25 more officers to reduce current calls-for-service by 25 per cent, give officers more time for crime-prevention work and reach a target of 70.5 Criminal Code and drug offences per 1,000 population.
“While the city and RCMP were aware that police services were under-resourced, we now know the full extent of the challenge before us,” said Macklem, the city’s general manger of corporate sustainability. The city currenty has an RCMP force of 148 officers.
“The report also recommends going up-stream (crime prevention) to stop people from falling into the stream in the first place, which in the long run reduces crime rates, triggering fewer staffing requirements.”
City council will receive the Prosser’s police resource requirements study at its regular meeting Monday, Jan. 30.
“The report now provides the city and the RCMP with strong, relevant data to develop a police services strategic plan and local crime reduction strategy that meet the needs of our citizens,” said Macklem. “The strategy is expected to be ready for council’s consideration prior to final budget in May.”
Baselines for the report were, in part, established by interviewing and analyzing a number of other policing units in Western Canada. Prosser also worked with top officers at the Kelowna detachment in preparing his report.
While the City of Kelowna’s overall crime rate remained flat between 2000 and 2009, with a minor increase of 0.4 per cent, the other communities selected for the study were able to reduce crime rates between 13.9 per cent and 31.6 per cent.
The report attributes these reductions to proactive crime prevention strategies, while recognizing similar levels may be difficult to achieve in Kelowna due to the large influx of tourists in the summer. The City of Kelowna’s population also grew faster than the other communities’ during the time frame studied.
Last month, Statistic’s Canada released as report that showed Kelowna was the most under polices metropolitan area in the country. Last week, city council approved the addition of four more police officers for the city, as well as a civilian crime analyst.
Since 2000, successive city councils have approved a total of 35 more RCMP positions and 12 municipal support staff, including the quartet and crime analyst to be added this year.
Every new police officer now costs the city a total of $138,500 when all costs are factored in, said Macklem
Police services currently represent just under 20 per cent of the $97 million the city collects in taxation each year.
Prosser’s full report, has been posted on the city’s website—kelowna.ca—under Council Meetings and will be part of the Monday meeting agenda package.