“The real enemy of safety is not non-compliance but non-thinking” Robert Long
Statistics Canada recently identified the crime rate in Kelowna and region as the highest in Canada. Kelowna’s top cop provided a number of reasons as to why; tourism and a lack of social services and added that the lack of affordable housing is making it difficult to recruit RCMP officers, this does not make sense. Summer vacationers have been coming to the Okanagan for decades, tourism fuels the local economy, social services are limited by government and many cities are experiencing similar or greater housing costs. The excuses end when leaders are reminded “they were hired to serve” the people.
Other reasons recruitment is an issue for the RCMP includes negative police sentiments (Black Lives Matter, Defund the Police), staff shortages, leadership issues, high workload, low morale, mental health trauma (PTSD) and the RCMP’s continuing inability to meet its contractual obligations. Lack of transparency from RCMP Senior Management as evidenced in testimony recently provided at the Nova Scotia Mass Casualty Commission (MCC) and before various parliamentary committees. RCMP management is not sufficiently accountable to local taxpayers. Quite simply, they take their marching orders from HQ in Surrey and NHQ in Ottawa. Decisions are slow and cumbersome because of process, reporting lines, policy and politics.
Retired RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon’s 2018 Report on Public Safety Report highlighted many issues. McKinnon stated that “over the past number of years, partners have met at critical times to discuss and solve specific issues. However, successful collaboration was not achieved or sustained due to a lack of leadership and accountability. The City of Kelowna was an active partner, but to date has not taken on the leadership role that others are looking to it for.” Four (4) years after these recommendations they have not yielded appreciable results under the existing RCMP and City leadership.
It may be time to consider the pros and cons of a municipal or regional police force that would provide more control over our police managers, recruitment, training and the administration of policy and procedure. This could be years out, in the meantime, we must demand more effective cooperation, collaboration and accountability from our local RCMP Detachment and District Management. We support enhanced innovation and accountability from these police leaders in order to achieve distinctive results.The Spirit Alliance prioritizes the safety of our community, its a basic human need, people with a sense of security and belonging become dependable and productive to themselves and to society.