Kelowna city council will consider on Monday (March 8) whether it will permanently close the KLO Community Policing Office (CPO).
The move would save the city around $135,000 in rent and personnel costs required to operate the office until the lease ends in December 2022.
The Rutland and KLO CPOs opened in the 1990s. While volunteers have historically staffed the Rutland CPO, the KLO CPO was staffed by city employees after 2014, and just two of them since 2017. The Rutland CPO also has RCMP officers assigned to it, while the KLO CPO doesn’t.
The city currently leases space for the KLO office in the Regional District of Central Okanagan building for almost $58,000 a year, despite the office essentially being closed. The Rutland CPO is city-owned.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, both CPOs were closed to the public. In May 2020, the KLO office’s two staff members were relocated to the Kelowna Police Services Building.
“Callers to KLO have since been redirected to the detachment’s online and main phone services rendering the CPO, in effect, fully closed. Staff indicate that there have been no complaints since,” reads a report prepared by Colleen Cornock, the city’s crime prevention supervisor.
Analysis found the KLO CPO ineffective, garnering an average of 1.25 in-person visits a day while the Rutland office typically sees more than 100 a month. Staff attribute the low usage to the location being outside a town centre in an area with lower-need/crime. Staff said it’s also not ideal that the CPO is within the RDCO lobby and limited to the district’s business hours. The minimal usage plots the cost per visitor at $260.
Staff has recommended council support the office’s closure but said the city would hold meetings with key organizations in the area to share the rationale for the decision and provide education on alternative service accesses.
While the KLO office may be slated for closure, the Rutland CPO is pending expansion with a new police information clerk to start in the spring.
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