Hiring more police and bylaw enforcement officers was on Penticton council’s meeting agenda on Tuesday.
Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki’s community safety motions that were first introduced at the Sept. 7 meeting of council was voted on at Tuesday’s meeting, which took place after the Western News press deadline.
Vassilaki wants to direct staff to make community safety a priority in the 2022 budget by hiring three more RCMP officers, four additional bylaw enforcement officers and two additional community safety officers.
Coun. Campbell Watt’s motion to direct staff to look into the cost, legality and effectiveness of putting cameras in the downtown will also be looked at.
The local RCMP have long said they are working on a reactionary basis only with no community presence besides responding to active crimes.
This comes after council turned down the mayor’s motion in May to hire more bylaw officers.
Bylaw enforcement services have also indicated that they’ve had a very busy summer with increased calls to deal with social issues and encampments. In July, council turned down the mayor’s request to hire five more officers after Penticton’s police chief said his officers’ caseload was unsustainable.
In the end, council agreed to hire two more officers. This week, Penticton CAO Donny van Dyk confirmed to the Western News that the city has put in the request to the RCMP to start the hiring process for those two officers.
Supt. Brian Hunter told council that officers are experiencing burnout and can only be reactive and will have no presence in the community beyond responding to crimes due to low staffing levels.
Following council turning down five officers, the owner of Ogo’s ice cream was attacked with a hammer and robbed. There have been no arrests.
Since then, several violent incidents have taken place including a woman struck from behind while she was paying for parking downtown.
Penticton has also had four murders this year.
Penticton resident Taig Savage was found critically injured at Pen Hi (Sept. 5).
Police deem it to be a homicide but no more information has been released since they ID’d him on Sept. 13.
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