ELECTION 2014: Candidates respond to Q&A about policing numbers

DISTRICT OF MISSION: Do you support increasing the number of Mounties in the community?

The Record asked candidates for mayor and council:

There are currently 47 police officers working in Mission. Mission has approval for 52. Do you support increasing the number of Mounties in the community? Please explain.

The following are the responses we received, unedited.

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Ted Adlem

I support the current RCMP budget.  It allows for 52 members. Should the Officer In Charge decide to bring on up to 52 he has the approve under his budget.

Wendy Bales

Current surveys of those that responded show that over 75% think police service is good to very good. Talking to people down town I was left with the impression that we need to do better to address crime, especially down town if we want revitalization to move forward in a positive way.

With a new council, public service agencies and public input, I would like to look at proactive ways to reduce crime. I would like to look at how to budget within our fiscal means spending more on proactive rather than reactive measures. Studies have shown that proactive measures like affordable housing and help to deal with social issues can save money in the long run to prevent crime and policing.

That said there is not one fix for all problems that will work for all people. With increasing populations there will be a need for more policing within affordable means. You need to always be cognizant, that by increasing taxes for things like policing, that it doesn’t end up causing more problems and that it doesn’t just shift the problem to another neighborhood or level of taxation, like an often higher cost of policing and prisons. Many people are already struggling with the cost of living increases for basic needs, so we need to make sure that we don’t tip the balance and make things worse through high taxation.

Kevin Francis

I support increasing the number of RCMP officers in the community. With only 47 officers in Mission, but with a population of approximately 37,000 people, we have an officer to resident ratio of 1:787. The BC average is 1 officer to 518 residents. Reducing the budget for such an essential service may result in a short term gain, but it is at the risk of creating problems that will ultimately be much more difficult and expensive to fix. Finances aside, Mission residents deserve to feel safe, and confident that if they have an issue, the police will be staffed and funded such that they can resolve that issue. RCMP officers already have a difficult job to do; they deserve to be given the respect and resources required to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

Randy Hawes

The protective services budget was cut by over $800,000 between 2011 and 2013. Where there was a need to add police 3 years ago, they have been told to do more with less so that a zero tax increase can be advertised. This is a compromise to public safety that should never be considered. We must increase our police force to the required level to ensure the public is protected. Property tax control needs to be balanced with proper cost control and increased revenue through growth, particularly industrial growth. There has been none of that for the past 3 years.

Tony Luck

Of course I want to see a full complement of 52 out there. Sometimes some of the officers go on long-term leave or sick leave, etc. and we have to find a way to backfill those positions. We will have to look at the entire police force numbers. We haven’t grown the police force in the last 10 years, last three previous councils, although stats, crime stats, are down slightly. It will be part of the bigger conversation with the new council. Public safety is important to me.

 

COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Shazad Shah

Yes, The need for more officers has never been more obvious. I would like to see an increase to 50 with at least one  more officer working with the people living in the lower 14th as they experience much of the crime associated with the increased marginalized population.

Terry Gidda

This is because of cuts. We need more police officer. I fully support that we need more Police Officer. This is a public safety issue. We can not compromise public safety.

Carol Hamilton

Given the numbers you have provided it appears the detachment is not currently staffed to the number of officers approved.  I believe as a council we should be reviewing the staffing levels regularly to be sure there are enough  officers to keep our community safe based on the crime rate at the time.

Terry Stobbart

I support the increase in numbers of RCMP in our community so that citizens can start to feel safer.  Increasing the presence of RCMP shows we care about our citizens enough to protect them. How do we pay for it? We need to have a small tax increase, like 1 or 2 percent, never higher than the cost of living increases some people get.  We need to grow and provide resources for our community.  We can’t sustain our community on 0 tax.  That is not common sense.  Let’s use the tax dollars wisely, don’t spend what we don’t have and let’s be proud to live in Mission again!

Rhett Nicholson

I haven’t directly talked to the Police Chief yet to fully and confidently access the situation but Mission has some clear visible issue’s which need to be addressed. Safety to me is not something to take lightly when it comes to our families. I would side strongly with the recommendations from Mission’s Finest.

Ronn Harris

It is great that Mission has approval for additional police officers, however, I would like to see an independent analysis similar to a “core review” that supports the addition of more officers.

At present (see audited review on the district website) the police are doing a good job, as evidenced by crime rates that are falling. I would want to be sure that our present staff is doing everything it can with what it has before adding additional costs to the community. If the need for additional officers is demonstrated, it would have my full support.

Michael Nenn

I support ensuring that law enforcement has the adequate resources and man power to keep our district safe from a public and business perspectives.  I think that consultation with our communities, RCMP and city staff are required to get all the information necessary to make the best decisions for the district as a whole.  Just because we have been approved for five more officers doesn’t necessarily mean we need them as there are other factors that need to be assessed. If it was then deemed that more officers would be needed then I certainly would support such an increase.

Rich Vigurs

I would be 100% behind the addition of 7 officers. Having worked on the Mission Interpretive Forest Master Plan the need for patrols up in the north portion of  Mission in areas like Stave West will be paramount to keep that area family friendly. I also feel we need more RCMP on foot or bikes in the downtown area if we are to make this area feel safer. At the current levels that is extremely difficult for the RCMP.

Attila Davalovsky

The Policing issue is a subject that needs to be reviewed and decisions will be made. The way things look now may change in the weeks, months and years to come. In 2009 the Police authorization strength was 52 they were budgeted for 47 and actually had 45 officers. 2012 Police authorization – 52 budgeted – 47 and actually had 47 officers. The Crime Rate (per 1,000 pop) was 101.3 in 2009 vs 98.8 in 2012, Criminal Code Offences – 3,770 ~ 2009 vs 3,716 ~ 2012 and Violent Offences -768 ~ 2009 vs 638 ~ 2012. I think the police are doing a fantastic job!

Danny Plecas

I do support the need to increase our police force. I would work with our police chief and identify key areas of need and supplement the force to satisfy those concerns. Added two officers  equal about 1% tax increase. We need to be mindful about our financial responsibility, and more than two , at this time , would be challenging.

Barry Jeske

Yes. I would like to see more emphasis on the downtown Community Policing Office as well as a Citizen Patrol program like in Abbotsford.

Dave Hensman

Based on the current increase in public safety I would stay the course based on budget and what the taxpayers can afford.

Jim Hinds

As part of my platform I have been stressing that we need to bring our police force up to strength. And though we are funded for 47 officers we actually only have about 45 on duty bec ause of long term leave and maternity/paternity leave. I am also promoting a satellite police office in the downtown area. Not the community police office as it does not have enough security to act as a proper police office. With a satellite office in downtown Mission we can have a proper police presence in the area. Even at night it can be of use to the police as now they have to return to their main office to fill out reports, if that was available in the downtown area we could have proper police interaction with the people of the downtown area. We need to clean up the downtown area before we spend millions or we will be just wasting money. CRMG has been telling everyone how they have saved $800,000.00 on their public safety budget. So hoe did they do this by cutting training to the fire dept. , by getting rid of a fire inspector so the one we have is 700 behind and by not funding the police office properly.

Pam Alexis

I am in favour of increasing the number of police officers as I have stated in my platform.  The current council has jeopardized our safety as a community by not filling these positions.  The downtown needs to have their security restored immediately.

Don Forsythe

Based on current increase in public safety I would stay the course based on budget and what the taxpayers can afford.

Crime Categry    2009-  2011-  2013,  %  Overall CRIME IS DOWN. Refer to Policing Stats Page #73- 2013 District of Mission Audited Report. Mission Police officers have done an admirable job in Protecting Our City. Election of the CRMG TEAM will ensure that these plans are realized , and that our downtown has a viable future.

Jenny Stevens

I think the time is ripe to increase our RCMP force. It is not though, as simple as that. We can increase our budget to cover more Officers but that doesn’t mean we will have that number at any point in time. Frequently, we have fewer than our full force due to Officers being on sick or holiday leave, away on courses or because the RCMP is unable to fill vacancies.

Larry Nundal

During the previous 6 years prior the CRMG being elected policing cost increased by just under 49%. Although there may be only 47 police officers presently the detachment has authority for 52 officers. In addition what the municipality pays towards the integrated teams equals about 5 officers. Also the province pays for the additional 6 officers in the detachment to police a part of the FV Regional District, from Mission to about Lake Errock.  There are also 47 FTE municipal employees working for the detachment. Given that crime stats do not show an increase in this area I have some difficulty rationalizing the need for more police.