The Williams Lake RCMP detachment is consistently one of the busiest detachments in B.C., ranking number one or in the top three for calls for service, case burden per member and crimes against persons.
At its regular meeting Nov. 6, Williams Lake city council passed a motion to recognize the challenges policing faces in the community and to develop a strategy through the policing portfolio to approach the provincial and federal government.
No other city in B.C. has outranked Williams Lake since the stats have been made available, acting chief administrative officer Geoff Goodall noted in a report to council Nov. 6.
Coun. Ivan Bonnell said the crime rates are no reflection of the service provided by the local RCMP detachment.
“We have top notch service from the detachment and top notch leadership. It’s been reported to us many times that 90 per cent of the crimes committed are by repeat offenders,” he said, adding in the budget discussions held with city departments on Nov. 1, RCMP Inspector Warren Brown told council the detachment is underfunded in its capacity to “get on top” of the situation and there needs to be a focused plan of action.
“It’s important to ask the provincial and federal governments for more allocations of resources to combat that challenge. There’s no question that there’s a clear and present danger to people and property by prolific offenders. Hopefully we can get that advocacy going at the federal and provincial level,” Bonnell said.
Mayor Kerry Cook has been part of a police portfolio that meets every two weeks and said there will be a report coming forward from those meetings.
On Nov. 5, Cook and Brown participated in a teleconference with mayors across Canada of communities that have ranked in the top 10 for crime, initiated by the mayor of Thompson, Man.
“We were able to quickly see that we have a lot of things in common, that we are hub communities, with lots of transient people and a lot of similar challenges. We’re going to have another meeting in the future to come together to share successes. One of the points I and Inspector Brown mentioned was the need for additional resources,” Cook said, adding the Williams Lake RCMP detachment has exhausted all avenues available to them.
“Collectively across Canada, these top crime hit communities are looking at strength in numbers in going forward to the federal government,” Cook.
Much of the crime in Williams Lake is transient committed by offenders who live outside of Williams Lake, and the local detachment has employed a number of strategies to maximize its efforts to deal with the local policing challenges, some of which are 12 separate community policing programs, Prolific Offender Program, and Victim Services.
“Williams Lake was one of six municipalities included in a prolific offender pilot program, but the province chose to discontinue the funding to this program due to the lack of scientific data that supported its effectiveness, though during the pilot program the city saw likely the largest drop in crime statistics in its history and we contribute much of this to the Prolific Offender Program,” Goodall’s reported noted.