RCMP Seek Input From Council on Policing Rossland

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
January 22nd, 2009

Sergeant Rob Hawton of the Trail and Greater District RCMP detachment visited Rossland’s Planning Committee meeting at City Hall this past Wednesday night to seek input as they develop their annual performance plan for the area.

First on the agenda for the night: the sergeant presented the six main objectives they had for policing the area, answering questions and seeking input from the municipality on if these objectives work for Rossland or if the city would like to see any changes.

“Every year we develop a plan called an annual performance plan for the detachment, and we set certain objectives that we aim for throughout the year,” explained Sgt. Hawton, referring to the process behind developing the performance plan. “We’ve done this for several years now, since 2004. We solicit input from all of the communities in our detachment area and find out what people think are the most important things to address from a policing perspective, and then we develop the plan from that.”

The objectives that were put in place last year, in no particular order, included,
1. Reduce Impact of Organized Crime
2. Reduce Property Crime –Vandalism
3. Contribute to Safe Roads – Impaired Driving
4. Contribute to Community Safety
5. Ensure a High level of Border Security –Drug Trafficking
6. Contribute to Safer Youth

Opening the floor for questions, Councillor Jill Spearn asked whether or not the RCMP still had a program that sent police into schools to educate students about drug use. Sergeant Hawton replied, “We haven’t had a trained member here for several years. We just had a member transfer in this past year, and we sent her away on the D.A.R.E. training course this past fall. She’s now trained and she’s started in the schools already. We also have another person, not a member of our detachment, but he’s with the border patrol services and he’s gone away for the training now as well, so we’ll have two people trained to do that work. We’re fortunate the young lady that came in from Vernon was with the crime prevention unit in the schools there, and I’m very happy with her performance.”

Seeking information on any crime trends that may be developing in the area, Councillor Andy Stradling inquired if there was anything specific worth noting.

“As far as trends, there’s nothing really in particular. We do have a drug problem here like most other places in the world, so we’re no different here on that front. It’s an issue we’re dealing with all over,” replied the sergeant.

Discussion arose around grow-ops in the area and ways to deal with them. It was noted that several years ago there were a number of houses in Rossland that were primarily used by an Asian group that came to town with the purpose of setting up grow-ops. During that time, Sgt. Hawton noted that the RCMP raided many of those houses in the space of about a year, and that these actions resulted in the group leaving the area.

“We got a lot of good information there, and we hit a lot of grow ops. If you put enough pressure on, you know it isn’t good for their business.”

While the Sergeant was unfamiliar with any bylaws Rossland may have to prevent grow-ops, he mentioned that Warfield has put some bylaws in place that have so far been successful in deterring grow-ops from setting up in the area. The general idea behind Warfield’s efforts was to move a lot of the focus to the municipality and building inspectors who have a much easier time entering and inspecting homes than the RCMP who have to go through a lengthy process to obtain warrants. The Warfield bylaws state that any home which contains a grow-op must be fully inspected to meet all codes before it can be inhabited again.

“There’s quite a bit of costs involved when you have a grow-op in a house [you rent out]. There are a lot of damages caused in terms of moisture, mould and so forth and the wiring is usually compromised. That gets pretty costly to repair. It also causes landlords to be a little more careful too with their renting a house, because they have lot of fixing to do before they can use that house again.”

City administrator Ron Campbell noted that Rossland does have bylaws in place but is currently in the process of rewriting them to allow for fines and cost recovery measures and to bring them in line with other municipalities in the area.

Other concerns raised were around organized crime and whether or not it has a presence in the area as well as staffing levels and response times in the region. Hawton replied that we do enjoy a fairly low crime level in Rossland which is a big attraction for many who choose to live here and that the staffing levels are adequate based on the crime statistics and workload in the region. It was also noted that while organized crime on some level likely has tentacles in all areas across the country, we don’t have the major gang wars that you see in some jurisdictions.

Closing out the discussion, the RCMP were thanked for the work they do. Council noted that in particular residents in the mid-town transition area were pleased to see patrol cars regularly setting up speed traps next to RSS.

Councillor Laurie Charlton moved that the Planning Committee support the six objectives outlined by the RCMP and suggested adding speeding to point three (contributing to safe roads). A motion was made and passed, recommending that council approve the objectives at their next regular meeting.

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