Waters: Can retired Kelowna top cop leave his old badge at the door?

Current and former Kelowna RCMP superintendents using different approaches to tackle downtown crime

On the same day that current Kelowna top cop Supt. Brent Mundle told Kelowna city council he is stepping up police presence downtown because of increasing crime there, particularly due to drug use, the city hired one of Mundle’s predecessors to figure out bureaucratic ways of making downtown safer for the public.

On Monday, as Mundle was presenting his quarterly policing report to council, the city issued a news release saying former Kelowna RCMP superintendent Bill McKinnon has been hired on contract to find ways to ensure the public “feels safe” on city streets.

And it stressed that despite McKinnon’s police background, his focus will not be on enforcement but rather on co-ordination of all levels of government to identify services required “before there’s a need for enforcement.”

The move seemed to echo Mayor Colin Basran’s pronouncement in council chambers Monday that dealing with crime downtown will take a concerted effort by a number of different groups, not just the police.

McKinnon’s task is being compared to the work the Journey Home Task Force, which focused on the homelessness in the city. In McKinnon’s case, it will be a focus on community agencies and other levels of government to identify gaps in the system that need to be filled, and how best to do that.

“We are doing our part when it comes to law enforcement, however just adding more enforcement (i.e. more cops) is clearly not enough,” said the mayor. “The RCMP have indicated that until there is a stronger focus by all levels of government on upstream prevention to address the social issues that are contributing to criminal activity, no amount of enforcement is going to solve the problem.”

And therein lies the problem. A cop on every corner is not the answer.

As Basran states: “We are recently experiencing more criminal activity in concentrated areas, which is negatively impacting our community despite our increased enforcement efforts. There is a limit to how much can be solved through enforcement and we need to work more cooperatively and collaboratively with our partners to ensure services are in place to minimize crime from occurring in the first place.”

What the city has seen is a decrease in crime overall in the last five years, but localized increases. Bringing in an experienced administrator with a policing background should bode well for the city as long as McKinnon can separate his former job from his current one, and leave what he used to do to the guy who’s now doing it.

Despite the concerns of some, downtown Kelowna is not Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. It has problems commensurate with the size of the city.

Addressing them now, before they get out of hand, is a smart move by city hall. And dealing with the problem from a multi-directional approach is a wise way to go.

For both Mundle and McKinnon, the clock is ticking. In Mundle’s case, it’s keeping a lid on what could grow to be an out-of-control situation quickly if not contained. And for McKinnon, it’s finding solutions by November, just in time for a new city council to consider.

Both men, it would seem, have their work cut out for them.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.

To report a typo, email:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Scammer targeting elderly in Kelowna with broken-down vehicle story

A door to door scammer is in Kelowna, targeting seniors according to Kelowna RCMP

Kelowna’s definitive Christmas market list

We’ve prepared a list of every market in the Central Okanagan

Okanagan volunteers reflect on building classrooms in Nepal

Through the charity Her International, the volunteer group built four classrooms

Cool Arts’ double header event features Lake Country artist

Celebration of artist Mark Mercer’s work to run alongside community art night in Kelowna.

Kelowna rallies around father of five after cancer diagnosis

Fundraisers are planned throughout November

Weekend weather update: Crisp and sunny

This weekend will see lots of sunshine and below season temperatures for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

$224.5 million announced for Highway 1 bridge replacement in Sicamous

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says bridge option will be announced next month

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Accident north of Vernon involves SUV and semi truck

Minor delays reported in Highway 97 crash

Ontario driver rolls car in Okanagan

Crash near Vernon follows reports of erratic driving

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Most Read