Kelowna lauded for understaffed police force

A study out of the Fraser Institute says Kelowna is home to the most efficient policing in the country.

  • Sep. 23, 2014 6:00 a.m.

A study out of the Fraser Institute says Kelowna is home to the most efficient policing in the country, although the right wing think tank failed to account for a recent influx of Mounties.

The study written by Livio Di Matteo examines policing costs, the number of employed police officers and contrasts that against declining crime rates to argue the cost of a police detachment teeming with Mounties outweighs the benefits.

DiMatteo, using 2011 statistics, highlighted Kelowna for having understaffed its police department.

Of course, a lot has changed since then.

That’s around the time the city gained the dubious distinction of having one of the country’s highest crime rates.

That crime rate  prompted a cry for more officers, the loudest of which came from a 2012 document called The Prosser Report. It stated that the local detachment needed 15.25 officers added to its ranks of what was then 148.

It got those Mounties, which the Fraser Institute Report didn’t account for, and now there are 174 members at the local detachment.

And this year Statistics Canada had some good news about Kelonwa. It reported that Kelowna’s crime rate dipped 12 per cent from 2012; dropping it from first to third in a nationwide crime ranking.

Of more relevance than the overall rate, perhaps, is Statistics Canada’s crime severity index.

Statistics Canada employs that tool to gauge not only overall crime rates, but also the seriousness of criminal violence.

That rate dropped locally by 22 per cent from the previous year, while non violent crime dropped nine per cent.

The Fraser Institute’s view of the relationship between crime and policing numbers, however, is different.

“While more police can lead to lower crime but at some point, increased spending on additional police officers has little impact on crime reduction. Today, in many cities across Canada, an excess of police officers are dealing with less and less crime,” Di Matteo said.

Di Matteo says the declining crime rate and the fact that the nature of policing work has changed to include responding to social problems and behaviours raises the question of whether police resources are being used efficiently.

The study cites police forces in Moncton, N.B., Kelowna, B.C., and Ottawa-Gatineau as having the most efficient staffing levels while Saint John, N.B., Winnipeg, Man., and Windsor, Ont., are cited as having the least efficient staffing levels.

Kelowna Capital News