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LETTER: Local RCMP deserve thanks, not shame, in Cariboo Regional District

A letter to the editor from Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation
The 100 Mile House RCMP detachment teamed up with FreshCo for this year’s Cram the Cruiser. Collecting donations for the 100 Mile Food Bank Society was Ainsley McKinnon, (left) Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen, Hudson McKinnon, Bretton McKinnon, Sgt. Brad McKinnon and Const. Jason Flett. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

To the Editor,

As a union proud to represent RCMP members all across Canada, including those in the South Cariboo Regional District (CRD), we are compelled to respond to remarks from Regional Directors in your story of Oct. 20.

Read More: Rural police presence ‘unsatisfactory’: CRD directors

First and foremost, our members are highly committed and deliver exceptional policing services to South Cariboo region communities in very challenging circumstances. This detachment has not seen an increase in the number of police officers since the 1990s, despite being asked to provide more and more services, with a growing and seasonally surging population in an area that covers 8,400 square kilometres. Over the past five years, the number of files they are required to deal with has climbed to 4,500 – again with the same number of officers.

Thankfully, one additional officer has been approved and is expected shortly, but this is just a drop in the bucket of what’s needed.

Each of the key communities within their area of responsibility — 100 Mile House, Bridge Lake, 108 Mile Ranch and Lac La Hache in addition to all rural areas — have unique needs and characteristics and can be several hours drive from call to call. Based on this population and size, the CRD and the Province of B.C. should work with the RCMP to increase funding for police resources in this area, rather than blaming local members.

Due to this ongoing lack of investment in community safety, our members find themselves working excessive overtime; without back-up available safely; sacrificing time off with their families to recover from the significant physical and psychological impacts of police work; and continuously being asked to do more with less.

The elected officials who complain about a lack of adequate service are too often those who repeatedly refuse/deny additional police funding and other paths to improvements. In this case, the Cariboo Region benefits by receiving 30 per cent federal funding for police services, which would otherwise need to be covered by local taxpayers.

It’s also important to remind directors and residents that this region experienced immeasurable benefit from the provincial RCMP this summer as a hotspot for wildfires, evacuations, and evacuation alerts with literally hundreds of RCMP officers deployed to the area since 2017 to keep residents and their property safe.

Instead of publicly shaming RCMP members, let’s thank them for the professional and dedicated service they do provide while at the same time advocating for the funding they need so they can continue to keep this region safe and livable.

Brian Sauvé

President of the National Police Federation

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