The heat is not on, or why a police presence in the Mountain Kingdom would be a good thing

Allyson Kenning
By Allyson Kenning
July 20th, 2011

Over the last little while, I’ve heard the following statement from visitors and newbies to Rossland: “Rossland is great! There are no police here!” I reacted both times I heard this with a bit of dismay. Sure, we’re in general a peaceful town with a sense of sleepiness and not a lot of overly nefarious activity going on. And that’s a good thing. However, it doesn’t mean that there is no nefarious activity going on at all, and if you ever do need to call the cops, it’s certainly not comforting that the nearest RCMP is at least a 20 minute drive away on the far side of Trail.


I’m not exactly sure when Rossland lost its RCMP detachment, but it was sometime after 1994, which is when I left town to go to university and get my little taste of the outside world for 12 years before returning to a police-less town in 2006. The local detachment used to be where K2 Contracting now has its headquarters.


Before I get into the main thrust of this piece, I do want to say that the lack of police presence in town only really concerned me when it came to traffic enforcement. Sure, once in a while you see a cop car downtown checking for seat belts and that kind of stuff, but speed enforcement in other areas of town is totally lacking and I think that’s made for some dangerous streets around here. Upper Washington when it turns into Plewman is a street I avoid walking all the time, and living on Spokane, I see all kinds of speeding and stop-sign running that isn’t acceptable when there are a lot of small children tootling around the neighbourhood.


But let me get to my main complaint here. During two weeks of June, I had an absolute disaster of a neighbour situation happening in the other side of my duplex. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that I feared for my safety on many occasions and I witnessed a lot of iffy behaviour. Several times, certain more shifty elements in town appeared on my doorstep and this caused concern not only for me, but my other neighbours as well. Sometimes minor laws were being broken, but I had no real emergency that necessitated a call to 911.


What would have been of superb help to me at the time, however, would have been to be able to go into my friendly neighbourhood cop shop and have a nice little chit chat with the people there so I could give them a sense of the situation and perhaps see if they would cruise around my place on a bit of a regular basis just to keep things settled down somewhat and perhaps deter some of the behaviour and minor law-breaking I was witnessing. That alone would have made me feel way more comfortable in my community and it would no doubt have ameliorated my stress levels, which were through the roof. The police might even have been amenable to perhaps having a chit chat themselves with a certain business in town that was enabling the situation to continue to escalate.


When it came to the point when the police did need to be called to deal with a situation next door, we waited 40 minutes. Family came to help me out with this from Castlegar and arrived before the RCMP did. It made me wonder, had I had a “real” emergency, what would the response time have been?

Similarly, the second time the cops were called to deal with something going on next door, the response time was once again very long and very unacceptable.  Again, had this been a “real” emergency, I wondered what would have happened.


The police I dealt with were excellent, efficient, and extremely sympathetic. The were very helpful once they got here and took all our concerns very seriously, so I am not dissing their service at all, only the fact that they had to come so far and it took too long for them to get here – which is not their fault. But had we a detachment in our own community, I think my hellish situation might have turned out very differently, and that ticks me off.


Back in December, some ski bums renting a house across the street from me had an appalling all-night party that went till nearly five in the morning. At four, when I finally got sick of listening to this party for two hours, (the music was so loud it was shaking my windows from that distance), I got up and witnessed a lot of vehicles around that house, revving engines and doing loser laps around the neighbourhood. It was loud and absurd. It was a housewarming party. I get that. They were young people having a good time. I get that, too. But had there been a cop on duty cruising around town, that party might have been shut down earlier, as it should have been, and both myself and the several other neighbours who were disrupted by these shenanigans might have had a better night.


For people of Rossland who believe that being cop-less in the Mountain Kingdom is a good thing, I wonder how you would feel if you were in my shoes and needing some quicker service from the cops if you had shifty characters doing shifty things in your back and front yard at all times of the day. When your sense of safety and comfort in your own home are being threatened, it’s a tough pill to swallow that you don’t have quick access to police. Having to call a central dispatch isn’t good enough, especially when you don’t really have an emergency, you only want to have get some information about how to best deal with a situation, or like I said, have a bit of police presence cruising around the neighbourhood to send a message.


This is a mountain paradise for sure. But it doesn’t mean that everyone who lives here is an angel and it doesn’t mean we don’t need a law enforcement presence. In fact, if we want this town to grow, we’re going to seriously need to rethink getting an RCMP detachment here, because with growth, comes other issues like increases in crime and increases in nefarious activities. It’s a no-brainer.


We need a police presence in Rossland.

Categories: Op/Ed

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