Vernon council has given budget approval for six more RCMP officers for the Vernon detachment.
Council voted unanimously to increase the number of officers from the current 50 to 56 in special 2018 budget meetings at City Hall.
Superintendent Jim McNamara was pleased with council’s decision, but say it could take up to a year to fill all of the positions.
“Even if we got the ball rolling as of January 1st and we identified officers to come here, it would take some time to sell homes and transferring and everything else, but we’re going to do our best to fill these spots as quickly as we can,” McNamara told Kiss FM at City Hall.
The extra officers will cost city taxpayers 1.1 million dollars, or an extra 2.9 percent in the budget.
McNamara says his request for extra officers wasn’t related to a recent Maclean’s article, which put Vernon in the top 10 for most dangerous places in Canada.
“I started this months ago, so it’s not related to the Maclean’s article at all. There is a business case that we prepared several weeks ago and presented to council on November 14th.”
The superintendent says that ranking may be bad again next year as the city has had two homicides, and an increase robberies in 2017, whereas in 2016, which the article was based on, there were no homicides.
McNamara says the city got hit hard with break and enters last year, but progress has been made this year.
“Our officers have done a fantastic job in targeting prolific offenders that are most responsible for those increased numbers And we’ve actually reduced those numbers by 40% with commercial B and E, and just shy of 40% with residential B and E’s this year.”
Council and city managers are discussing the budget in meetings over the next two days.
The cost for each of the officers is $173,759, plus an additional $8,243 for one of the positions which is a corporal.
Constables are paid up to around $85,000, with the rest of the costs for support such as vehicles, benefits and administrative costs.
Pictured: Vernon RCMP Superintendent Jim McNamara