Two new cops on the beat will ease caseloads for existing RCMP members in Nanaimo.
The city announced earlier this month that it loosened its purse strings to add two RCMP members to Nanaimo’s municipal force.
The two new general duty members will bring the total municipal force to 142 when they enter service in October.
Nanaimo RCMP had asked for five officers, but two will still take pressure off existing staff, said Insp. Sorab Rupa, the detachment’s operations officer.
From 2014-16, Rupa estimates calls for service in Nanaimo have increased about 15 per cent. RCMP members responded to 37,990 files in 2015.
Multiple factors drive case loads and range from people dealing with addiction and mental health issues to prolific property crime repeat offenders who have been released into the community after serving sentences for prior convictions.
“They’re going to be deployed on the front line for calls for service because the phone keeps ringing,” Rupa said. “People are phoning for accidents or neighbour disputes or even sex assaults. [General duty] are the folks that are the first point of contact that the public have with us. That’s where we need them.”
Rupa said the impact of two members will be widespread and each officer will take on about 450 cases per year.
Whether the members will be new recruits or seasoned members depends on who is available the RCMP’s staffing section.
“We actually like recruits because we can kind of mold them and get them used to the way we do things,” Rupa said.
The RCMP charges the city $162,000 per officer annually, which includes all expenses such as salary and equipment, firearms, vehicle costs, ongoing training and other costs needed to perform their duties. The new members will be paid for through reserves accumulated from RCMP annual contract surpluses.
What the ideal size of a municipal police force for Nanaimo will be and which policing programs are most effective is under review. Data is being gathered over several months for a study conducted by the RCMP which might be complete in late fall.
“It takes in a whole variety of factors and then, at the end of it, it spits out a number of what’s required and then really it’s up to the city as to what is it that they want,” Rupa said.