Kelowna’s top cop says he expects crime to rise in the city until more services and treatment are provided for people addicted to drugs.
Supt. Brent Mundle, in presenting quarterly crime statistics to city council Monday, said he believes the driving force behind Kelowna’s rising property crime numbers is drug addiction.
“The reality of it is, I think some of my numbers with respect to property crime may continue to increase until we get a handle on some of the social issues, primarily some drug-related problems in the community,” said Mundle.
According to the latest RCMP statistics, property crime rose 10 per cent in the first three months of 2019 compared with last year. Other Criminal Code offences were up eight per cent, while crimes against people rose five per cent following declines in the previous two years.
Crime was one of the top issues identified by the public in the city’s most recent Citizen’ Survey.
Echoing a statement by his predecessor, retired RCMP inspector Bill McKinnon, who was hired by the city last year to look at ways to reduce crime in the downtown core, Mundle said the city will not b able to arrest its way out of the current situation involving crime and addiction.
As part of his presentation, Mundle said the RCMP now has a full-time, dedicated four-officer bicycle unit patrolling downtown and in Rutland, has the four additional RCMP officers approved in the 2018 city budget in place and is looking at a plan to use civilian employees, such as retired officers, to respond to lower priority calls to police. The Kelowna RCMP received 55,000 calls for service last year.
Seven new officers were approved in the city’s 2019 budget, with all but one to be paid for with savings the local detachment generates from officers on leave and budgeted positions that are vacant at any given time.
Requests for the new officers have been made, said Mundle, but he is still waiting for federal approval.
He said it can take as long as a year to have new officers in place after their positions are approved by the city.
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