Kelowna’s former top cop says city can’t ‘arrest its way’ out of downtown drug problems

Former RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon is preparing a report on ways to deal with impact of opioid crisis

Former RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon was in charge of the Kelowna detachment from 2004 to 2013. —Image:Capital News file

Kelowna’s former top cop, hired by the city to look at issues surrounding the opioid crisis, says enforcement alone is not the answer.

“You can’t arrest your way out of this, it’s impossible to do that in 2018,” says retired RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon in a new video released by the city to highlight the work he is doing as a consultant for city hall.

“That may have been effective in my day, or in 2005, but it’s so complex and there are so many intricacies in what’s going on in the actual solutions,” says McKinnon who retired in 2013 after nine years in charge of the Kelowna detachment.

McKinnon is set to present his report in November. He held off presenting it before the municipal election, preferring to reveal his recommendations to the new city council to be sworn in Nov. 5.

In the YouTube video, McKinnon says everything he has looked at, and everyone he has spoken too, agree that first requirement is to get people on the street shelter.

“They’ve got to have a roof over their heads,” he says in the video. “We can’t leave people out on the street to freeze to death. And the housing can’t come quick enough, to be honest with you.”

B.C. Housing is opening 88 new units of supportive housing this year in the city and talks are underway for another 100 units next year.

McKinnon calls the opioid crisis a “real game changer” in terms of law enforcement since he was in the city’s top cop.

The video lists three main issues that are complicating the quest for solutions to the issue—mental health and addiction, an increasing vulnerable population and a changing legal environment.

“The numbers have doubled, almost tripled, from what I saw when I left (the RCMP) in 2013,” says McKinnon.

And then there is the court system.

He notes while possession of a narcotic is still an offence, the courts are treating it as an illness and as a result, feels the penalties for possession are far different than what they were in 2013.

In the video, the city lists several steps it has taken this year to help alleviate the situation downtown including:

• New security patrols

• Increased street cleaning

• On-call recovery of discarded needles

• Temporary washrooms

And it says it is also working with partners on what it calls a holistic approach to housing and support services.

McKinnon says he has a number of recommendations he feels need to be acted on and moved forward to help improve the situation and says there are also some “quick fixes.”

McKinnon report will be presented to council next month.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

West Kelowna to hire eight more firefighters

The city looks to solve what they are calling a critical shortage of firefighters

Kelowna RCMP look to reunite stamp collection with owner

The stamp collection was handed to RCMP in Oct.

Kelowna RCMP search for speed-slowing cut out

The cut out of Const. Warren Ning has been allegedly taken from A.S. Matheson Elementary School

Battling winter blues, depression and SAD after the holidays

Kick the blues on ‘Blue Monday’ that is supposedly the most depressing day of the year

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

Man charged in 7-Eleven fire in Shuswap granted bail

Accused facing arson charges released with 23 conditions including a 7 p.m. curfew

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Most Read