KAMLOOPS — The city is budgeting for the RCMP to add three more members in 2018 at a cost of $525,000 — and six more in the next four years to bring the total number of officers in Kamloops to 129.
"What the three was in there for is a placeholder for council based upon a request, which we know is coming from the RCMP," said city CAO David Trawin. "That request will be to add basically six additional officers."
Earlier in November, the city's finance department announced Kamloops is adding two officers this year to bring the number up to 123. But between shootings and the opioid crisis, the city believes more is needed and it is affordable with $2.3 million in the police reserve fund. Kamloops Supt. Brad Mueller will be at council next week to make that official request.
"We have to make sure our streets are safe for our citizens," said Kamloops mayor Ken Christian. "As incidents come up, we have to deal with them. But it's not just dealing with the incidents at the time. There is a huge amount of follow work that's required in terms of getting cases ready for prosecution and those kinds of things, and the more cases you have the more that drains your rotatable officers."
City CAO David Trawin says the extra officers would cut back significantly on the amount of overtime the city is paying to RCMP officers, and spending an extra half a million dollars next year will save the city money.
"It's a significant amount of money. However, when you look at what was used out of overtime this year based on the number of officers we have, which I understand is over $1 million, then this year we're paying for it anyway," said Trawin. "I'm not going to sit here and say there's not going to be any overtime, but it would definitely allow the amount of work to be spread out over more officers."
Mayor Christian also made the suggestion at council on Tuesday that the province should pay for a portion of policing with the mental health calls for service up in the city.
"Those issues are health issues. The opioid crisis is an epidemic and certainly mental health and addiction are issues that properly should be addressed by the Ministry of Health and the Interior Health Authority," said Christian. "So we want to make a case on behalf of the taxpayers of Kamloops that we are disproportionately carrying this burden."
Christian met with the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy last week and will continue to make the case for more funding in the months to come.
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