Williams Lake city council is ramping up its request to the provincial government for GPS electronic monitoring of prolific offenders.
“Criminals are being let back on the streets on a regular basis and these are prolific offenders with 100 to 200 charges,” Coun. Scott Nelson said during Tuesday’s regular council meeting. “It goes on and on. The community has been extraordinarily patient, but now they are asking us to protect the community.”
Coun. Jason Ryll said he’s been asked what council is doing to stop crime and said many residents have installed home security systems, home surveillance systems and locking gates out of fear.
“I have a growing concern for the sense of vigilante-ism which I cannot endorse but do understand,” Ryll said.
During the meeting, Nelson read out a letter that city council will be sending Premier John Horgan and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth.
“In response to repeated pleas from our community to address the criminals at large in Williams Lake, the City has reached out to its citizens, businesses and the community groups in our municipality to put their concerns in writing,” Nelson said. “To be blunt, we are frustrated because we have not seen any satisfactory efforts made to address the ongoing threats to our community by criminals released on conditions.”
Nelson used the recent example of a home invasion on Monday, Dec. 2, where the suspects that were arrested were “known to police.”
The meeting’s agenda also included letters from the region’s MP and MLA in support for the City’s request.
Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty said he echoed the concern local politicians have regarding the “negative impact prolific offenders are having on our communities.”
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett also offered her full support.
“It has come to my attention in recent years that the prolific offenders in the area of the Cariboo-Chilcotin are eating up valuable resources in the policing and checking of these offenders on a continuing basis,” Barnett stated in her letter. “As technology has advanced in the field of monitoring and tracking of offenders, it seems that we have taken a step backwards by under-utilizing the use of such technology from our justice system.”
Additionally, the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce sent a letter of support, noting from a community and business perspective, the chamber believes the crime level and threat to the community from prolific offenders is “unacceptable.”
CAO Milo MacDonald said the legislation is already in place, allowing for the use of the technology and they are used in other provinces.
An online poll by the Tribune asking if readers support the initiative to date has received 278 votes in favour and 29 votes opposed.
In 2018 the City arranged to lease 10 GPS tracking anklets, that have yet to be used.