The City of Colwood has announced an increase in the communities police strength but is also calling for more help from the province.
At its Monday night meeting, council resolved to fund two additional West Shore RCMP officers, with a support staff of two civilian employees by 2021.
The city says the increase will be funded by new construction tax revenue and will not impact current residential property tax.
“Colwood was recently rated one of the safest communities in Canada and the second safest community in BC. We intend to keep it that way.” Colwood Mayor Rob Martin said in a statement.
West Shore RCMP’s 81 officers serve Colwood, Langford and View Royal as well as Highlands, Metchosin, Esquimalt Nation, Songhees Nation, portions of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area and the Trans Canada Highway. The City of Colwood said the province is responsible for funding Highlands, Metchosin, the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area and Trans Canada areas.
“Colwood, Langford and View Royal all contribute higher proportions toward West Shore RCMP than the province,” Martin said. “Whether you measure by population, service time, officers per capita or property assessments, the provincial contribution falls short.”
Colwood, Langford and View Royal have sent a joint letter to the province requesting the government increase its portion of West Shore RCMP funding to meet service needs.
The City of Colwood said an increase is supported by a recent RCMP General Duty Staffing Assessment (GDSA). According to the city, the assessment recommends an increase of four general duty constables, from 32 to 36 for an overall increase in police strength from 81 to 90.
“The assessment also shows that with current resources, general duty members are only able to spend 13.5 per cent of their time doing proactive police work. The RCMP recommends that a detachment’s strength should allow for officers to dedicate 25 per cent to 35 per cent of their time to proactive policing. According to the GDSA report, underfunding by the provincial government for areas policed by provincial members is one reason for this shortfall,” the city said in a release.
“Colwood council’s resolution to fund two new officers and two new civilian staff fulfils the city’s portion of the increase. They are calling on the province to fund their portion as well. Specifically, the GDSA shows that the province should fund an additional three members, increasing from their current four members to seven.”
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General released a statement that said although it is a partner jurisdiction at the West Shore detachment, RCMP have not provided a copy of the general duty staffing assessment report to staff.
“We look forward to reviewing the document and understanding the methodology and look forward to having further discussions on this topic,” the ministry said in the statement.
“With respect to requests for new additional provincial resources, the RCMP maintains internal processes through which local detachment commanders may report pressures to BC RCMP Headquarters to identify and address resourcing needs. Local requests for new additional resources are prioritized and considered in the context of the larger needs of the Provincial Police Service. Any business case received by BC RCMP Headquarters is carefully considered as part of this process.”
The province said subject to RCMP confirmation, the West Shore Provincial Unit has six regular positions (five for general duty) and one support staff.
“It is important to note that in addition to officers assigned to the West Short Provincial Unit, RCMP Provincial Service maintains provincial and district level resources that may provide service to the area if and when needed such as major crime, forensic identification, or other specialized services. These resources and services are not accounted for at the West Shore Provincial Unit level,” the ministry said.
The provincial government is responsible for providing policing and law enforcement to municipalities under 5,000 and unincorporated/rural areas throughout the province. The West Shore provincial jurisdiction is included as part of the integrated West Shore RCMP Detachment. This provincial jurisdiction includes the District of Metchosin, the District of Highlands, and unincorporated areas adjacent to Metchosin. Direct policing services to this geographic jurisdiction are provided by the West Shore Provincial RCMP Unit, which is housed in the West Shore detachment and provides integrated service delivery to the entire detachment area along with partner jurisdictions – Colwood, Langford, and View Royal.