While the correctional centre has provided many jobs in the community and is keeping lawbreakers off the streets, its impact on local police resources is steadily becoming a burden.
Oliver RCMP officers are required to attend the facility on a regular basis to perform the following tasks: fingerprinting inmates and taking their photographs; DNA court orders; serving summons and subpoenas; execution of warrants (for arrests of prisoners for offences committed prior to incarceration); investigate offences at the facility, such as assaults, mischief, threats and damage to property; and assist other police agencies with investigations.
When the correctional centre reaches its capacity of 400 inmates, local police could be responding to 200 calls per month, according to the detachment commander.
This will be a huge burden, and unless Oliver receives additional police officers to take on these duties, services may suffer in the community.
RCMP brass previously made a business case to the province for more officers to help police the prison. But nothing has come of that yet.
The Oliver RCMP roster is currently down due to staffing issues, so it has been difficult to provide coverage to both the facility and the community at large.
The burning question is why didn’t the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General hire a full-time, in-house officer (or two) to look after these calls for service at the correctional centre? It only makes sense to provide this resource instead of burdening local police that already have their hands full.
The ministry has assured the Oliver Chronicle on two occasions that the prison will not be a burden on the local detachment. Did they mean starting in 2018?
Perhaps we need to make this an election issue. The province cannot expect to run a prison and have the local RCMP at its beck and call without providing additional manpower. That’s a good way to stretch resources, but a bad way to do business.
There is no doubt the government can trim its budget and find money to staff the facility with a full-time officer. Maybe cancel a few trips overseas for heads of state, or just say “no” to corporate welfare recipient Bombardier the next time it asks for a handout.
Lyonel Doherty, editor