Thursday, August 24, 2017

Prince Rupert City council hears of successes and challenges of policing in the city

On Monday night Prince Rupert City Council received an update
on policing in the city from the detachment commander Blake Ward

After an extended absence from Council chambers, the Prince Rupert RCMP delivered an update on policing in the community, making for the first of the public reports to Council that Councillor Barry Cunningham has been seeking from a number of civic partners.

The policing report was delivered by detachment commander Blake Ward, who provided a glimpse for council into some of the success stories of the year, as well as some of the ongoing challenges that the members face as they work to keep the community safe.

Staffing levels and the somewhat unique experience for Prince Rupert of a policing unit which is half made up by new recruits to the Force made for part of the narrative for the commander, who outlined how at the moment owing to recent rotations out of the community, the split is near 50/50 between experienced officers and newcomers to both Prince Rupert and the RCMP.

As Ward explained to Council, that staffing level and make up provides for some challenges in balance for policing and training of the new arrivals.

"One of the areas that we have had to struggle with this last year is the number of transfers in and out. Being that Prince Rupert is a four year limited duration posting, we have had a significant number, over half of our membership changed last year. So that is very challenging when your are trying to juggle those resources in and out.  And unfortunately lot of them were replaced by cadets coming out of training. So there is more time involved in training them up and in getting them ready for the road. The benefit is that we get to create the Mountie we want  ... which is good from our perspective though it is taxing on the membership to get them up to speed  - -- Prince Rupert Detachment Commander Blake Ward on staffing requirements for the city police RCMP 

He also outlined the new performance plan for the local detachment, with priorities for enforcement directed towards roadside impairment operations, traffic enforcement initiatives and targeted enforcement activities in partnership with other agencies such as DFO and CVSE.

A review on policing in Prince Rupert
from the detachment was part of
Monday's city council session
When it comes ongoing concerns, Domestic Abuse case files continue to be a challenge for the local detachment, making that one area of policing that they hope to address in the community through this year.

He observed that as there is currently one member on light duties at the detachment who has been tasked to review those concerns trained in the Be Safer program.

Her work has allowed for the detachment to analyze the files and identify where some issues may be found, noting that there are a number of vulnerable and high risk families in the community at this time that they can.

Crime Reduction is also a main focus for detachment members, as they try to reduce the number of property crimes and crimes against person in the community. Towards that goal officers have become more visible in the community through regular patrols, foot patrols and even in some cases bike patrols. As well, he outlined the success the RCMP has found with its prolific offender program.

"The focus of this is to try and be highly visible, if people see us out there it is less likely that they will try something." -- Detachment Commander Blake Ward on how the local RCMP is approaching crime reduction efforts in Prince Rupert

He noted that through those efforts they have found some success in reducing thefts from vehicles with a significant decrease in case files delivered this year. Part of that initiative finds members making curfew checks and other interactions with those who are considered prolific offenders.

The commander also reviewed some of the administrative changes that have taken place in the community, and answered a number of questions from Council members.

Among his notes for Council members included a review of the current staffing level of 29 positions with 26 currently in rotation owing to a number of pregnancies with serving officers.

He noted for Council that at 29 officers, the current number of active members with the detachment is lower than what would be the listed recommended staffing level of 36 members.

In answering a question from Councillor Thorkelson as to one the area related to social issues that he would like to have a magic wand to solve, Ward observed that there are many social issues in the community that need to be addressed pointing towards both Drug and Alcohol concerns and mental health issues in the community which provide for challenges for policing in the city.

"We often see a sizeable number of our files are related to drug and alcohol as well as to mental health and you see that they are connected ... I don't think there is one thing you can say, one  event,  or one support group that can help, it has to be more of a holistic approach in my mind. We  work very closely with the doctors here in town and we have a good working relationship with them, one of the best in the communities I've worked in, which makes our job easier.  Having said that, it's almost every shift we're dealing with somebody with mental health issues and there's  no question that drug and alcohol issues are multiple people that we're dealing with every shift    -- Detachment Commander Blake Ward on social issues in the community.

A larger overview of his presentation to Council is available on our Council Timeline Feature

You can review the full presentation to council from the City's Video archive, it starts at the nine minute mark.

You can review notes related to the work of emergency service personnel across the Northwest from our archive page here

More notes related to Monday's Council session can be found here.

Further items of interest related to Prince Rupert City Council can be examined on our Council Discussion page.

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