The provincial government vowed to continue funding the Okanagan police contingent committed to investigating organized crime, but what initially came as good news now has Kelowna’s mayor worrying about the future.
“I’ve learned that the (Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit) was paid for with one-time federal funding that got allocated to the provinces,” said Mayor Sharon Shepherd, explaining that the feds gave the province $53 million in 2008 to deal with extra policing demands, and it chose to focus some of the resource on gang task forces in the Interior.
Although the three-year contract for that service will be extended, Shepherd said it may have reverberations in other policing funds.
“The province is promising that money, but where are they going to get it from? It’s made it more complicated it all of a sudden,” Shepherd said.
B.C.’s Solicitor-General Shirley Bond didn’t have answers for that built into her Tuesday morning statement about the province’s commitment to the continued funding of the special enforcement unit.
“We want to maintain this focus on guns and gangs,” she said in a statement.
Kelowna Lake Country MP Ron Cannan hasn’t indicated that more cash will be thrown at the problem, but he says the Conservatives are steadfast in their approach to keeping crime at bay.
“The federal government will still continue to maintain our funding commitments, and ensure the legislation is in place to address organized crime through mandatory sentencing and police enforcement,” he said.
Cannan added that gang activity is everywhere and legislation is the best way his branch of government can deal with the problem.
The need for the 16-member task force rose to the forefront Sunday when a masked gunman shot at five people in a vehicle in the parking lot of the Delta Grand Hotel.
Red Scorpion kingpin Jonathan Bacon was killed and Hells Angel Larry Amero and Independent Soldier James Riach were injured.
Riach fled the scene while the others remain in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
No arrests have been made but police are asking the public for information about a newer silver/green Ford Explorer that matches the description of the getaway vehicle.
Any information about the suspect vehicle can be called in to Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300 or to the Crime Stoppers tip line at 1-800-222-8477.