Coastal police unit operating with half its members

Coastal police unit operating with half its members

RCMP report to Port Edward council reveals low numbers on the coastal force

Only half of the members needed for the RCMP coastal unit are working to cover Port Edward, Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla, Kitkatla, Klemtu and Hartley Bay.

In a report to the Port Edward council on August 14, Sgt. Ballinger from the Prince Rupert RCMP said, “The coastal unit is at about 50 per cent right now. We’re getting more people in through one-year rotations, but they’re all junior members so we’ve got to train them up first in the city and then they can come over to us.”

Although the RCMP detachment had seven new cadets join since December, the numbers are still lower than they need to be. Five people are on parental leave, one member quit working in the force entirely and another is off for medical reasons. While a corporal is moving to the coastal unit this month, two members are transferring out. The average length of stay is for a four-year term, although officers can apply for a year-by-year term.

“Usually the first term there’s no issues,” Ballinger said. “After that, you have to have rationale for it. We’re trying to keep people. The people who have just left all extended already… With that being four years in a limited duration post, we can’t hold them back.”

Instead, they need new recruits. Despite putting two call-outs through the RCMP’s system, senior members are not applying.

READ MORE: Fewer calls to Prince Rupert police in 2017: report

Traffic services out of Prince George, Quesnel and Smithers have been doing rotations throughout the summer, sending one person a week until the end of August.

“Sounds like you’re struggling,” councillor Dan Franzen said after the report.

“I know that myself and others have noticed patrols are down, and you just gave me the reason why,” Mayor Dave MacDonald added. “That’s one of our biggest concerns is that you make a drive-through as often as possible.”

Ballinger’s report also included an update on the cell block’s retrofit. The 10 cells are now up to code after letters from the Commanding Officer of the B.C. RCMP stated the jail cells didn’t meet standards “to reduce or eliminate potential hanging points, inhibit weapons fabrication and improve monitoring capabilities.” That letter was sent to the City of Prince Rupert in 2014.

Next, the RCMP station needs to be relocated to accommodate an expansion, estimated at $30 million. Files are currently stored off-site, and two RCMP staff have to work out of the building as there is not enough room.

Inspector Blake Ward had been scheduled to speak at the August 14 council meeting, but could not present since he is in Prince George assisting with the wildfires.

READ MORE: City struggles to meet RCMP demands to improve facilities

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