With crime and social disorder seemingly on the rise in the Harbour City, a Nanaimo RCMP officer says some decisions within their own detachment are partially to blame.
An RCMP member whose identity CHEK is keeping anonymous sent an email detailing upper management’s decision to shut down the Projects Unit and Street Crimes Unit, which monitored prolific offenders and arrested them when they reoffended. The message also addresses the closure of what the member says was a highly successful bait car program.
The officer claims senior management chose to shut down the program because they don’t want to pay the members to be on call when the cars are deployed.
“I know firsthand that members of Nanaimo RCMP detachment are at a loss as to the rationale behind these decisions,” they said. “The closure of these units had a direct result with the increase of crime here. The increase in crime is not random and it is not out of the blue. It is a direct result of the closure of these units.”
The officer also said Nanaimo has many prolific offenders and to not monitor them is essentially giving them free reign as General Duty Police officers are just not able to give them the attention these offenders require and need.
Officially, Nanaimo RCMP says the units haven’t been disbanded, the officers from them have simply been reassigned for now while there are more pressing matters.
“We’ve had a significant period of violence which resulted in a number of homicides. That’s priority number one in our office. A lot of these members who are on these units because they have specialized skills and they have seniority have been seconded to assist with these homicides,” said detachment spokesperson Ret. Const. Gary O’Brien.
One of the latest homicides happened in the parking lot of Port Place Mall.
While not willing to discuss numbers, O’Brien says the detachment is also short-staffed for officers for a variety of reasons. The Nanaimo detachment is one of just several in B.C. now being given priority hiring for new Mounties. There’s also a ban on transferring out unless it’s for a promotion or compassionate reasons.
O’Brien says the detachment’s attention to prolific offenders is not suffering as a result.
“No, prolific offenders are a priority in our office regardless of whether you’re on the bike unit on traffic or general duty. We can’t say exactly how we target them but we do lawfully and they continue to be a priority in our office,” he said.
Nanaimo’s mayor, Leonard Krog, says he’s briefed on changes at Nanaimo RCMP when they happen.
“I’m very happy with the work of the RCMP in Nanaimo. They’re not responsible for the brain injury and the alcohol and addiction and mental health issues that are of such concern to British Columbians. They’re dealing with the other end of the stick and they’re doing as much as they can with the resources they have,” said Krog.
Krog says B.C.’s Solicitor General is coming to Nanaimo later this month and he’ll be advocating for a Major Serious Crimes Unit based on central Vancouver Island.
The owner of a popular downtown cafe said she certainly believes the RCMP’s resources could be used better than they are currently.
Amanda Scott said this past Monday The Vault Cafe suffered its fifth broken window in five weeks, with one leading to a lengthy break-in and theft.
“For a whole hour, in-out in-out and no one noticed, not one police officer, not one of the security guards that patrol the area,” said Scott.
She said she wishes he community policing office on Victoria Crescent never closed.