January 12, 2017 1:42 am

Village of Keremeos requests additional police officers, calls current service unacceptable

WATCH: Keremeos pleading for more police

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It’s a small community but some residents are saying the Village of Keremeos in the Similkameen Valley has a big problem when it comes to policing.

Many fear crime can run rampant when law enforcement isn’t around.

Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer said he wants the local detachment to be expanded.

“We’re asking the province to increase the number of staffing we have here at the RCMP detachment in Keremeos,” Bauer said.

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“I would like to see at least five officers plus a sergeant. Of course everybody wants more and of course it costs money. It is up to the province to look at whether five officers are warranted.”

The Keremeos police detachment falls under the provincial contract for policing because its population is fewer than 5000.

Currently, the detachment is managed by a corporal and that limits the staffing to four police officers.

Local politicians want the RCMP to bump it up one service level by making it a sergeant-run detachment.

The Village of Keremeos, Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, and the Lower Similkameen Indian Band have sent letters to the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris outlining their concerns about high RCMP member turnover and long response times.

In a statement to Global News, B.C.’s Public Safety Ministry said,

“Local requests for increases are prioritized by the BC RCMP HQ and are considered in context to the larger needs of the Provincial Force. Communities are encouraged to continue working with their local detachment to ensure policing is in line with community expectations.”

Bauer said citizens have complained about long police response times.

“We did have incidents in the fall where a family contacted the RCMP and waited over an hour for a response,” he said.

Staff Sgt. Kirsten Marshall from the Penticton South Okanagan Similkameen head office says the RCMP addressed the concern after that call.

“We are not aware of any other similar delays, and regard this instance as a one-time issue,” she said in a statement.

Several surrounding communities like Cawston are also served by the Keremeos detachment.

Local representatives said expanding the service is worth the extra cost.

“If it was a loss of life, how do you put a dollar figure on a loss of life, or whatever tragedy it is that could be prevented?” said Electoral Area ‘B’ Director (Cawston) George Bush.

The RCMP said crime is trending downwards in Keremeos and back-up is available from nearby detachments if a serious situation unfolds.

As far as more boots on the ground, the RCMP said that’s still a discussion to be had.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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