More policing resources in B.C.’s rural and remote communities are needed, said a Cariboo Regional District director.
During the regular board meeting Friday, March 6, Barb Bachmeier, Area B director for the Quesnel West and Bouchie Lake, presented three draft resolutions for consideration at the upcoming North Central Local Government Association Convention taking place May 13 to 15 in Prince George.
Her resolutions call for the reinstatement of auxiliary police forces, increased provincial funding for more RCMP officers dedicated to rural and remote areas, ongoing funding of rural crime reduction groups such as Rural Crime Watch, and funding of rural community policing offices in areas of the province experiencing increased RCMP calls for service.
“In the North Cariboo we’ve had huge stats as far as calls for service, especially in 2018,” Bachmeier said. “They were higher than Quesnel, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and the Central and South Cariboo. I want to see a community policing office for the rural areas. We need our communities to be more involved with their own policing.”
Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb said city council has been talking about auxiliary policing for a number of years.
“Because of some the things the government did to auxiliary policing, some of the police departments don’t want auxiliaries anymore because they are not given the proper training like they used to have, they are not allowed to carry guns, etc. etc.,” Cobb said, noting he thinks there needs to be some more discussion with RCMP. “I guess I would leave it up to NCLGA to do the research.”
Bachmeier said during a meeting with the Attorney General it was hinted the government was thinking about auxiliary police, which is why she is putting the resolution forward to continue to encourage the idea.
“We know we have problems with drug addiction and we know we have problems with homelessness, but they are coming into our areas and robbing us blind. It’s a problem and we need to deal with it starting here, have it go through NCLGA and up to the government.”
Area D director Steve Forseth said he has been in communication with Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Jeff Pelley because he has received calls from constituents living in the Commodore Heights area north of Williams Lake who have experienced break-ins.
The board approved the draft resolutions and directed staff to tweak them for submission by the March 13 deadline.
Other resolutions being submitted include lobbying higher leveles of government for maintenance of Forest Service Roads that are critical for the public’s access and egress; clarity in the Local Government Act on temporary use permits; improved vegetation control by utility companies along power lines and consideration of seasonal populations in rural communities, when looking at grant funding and public service levels.