This week the Prince George Citizen will be posting a six-part series: Six Questions for Six Mayoral Candidates.
The focus of the series is to allow voters to hear from the candidates running for mayor on how they would handle real issues which will be coming before the next city council. The candidate’s answers have only been edited for clarity, and are posted in alphabetical order.
QUESTION: In February, Prince George city council requested an independent review of the city’s policing needs. The report, expected back later this year, will likely indicate that Prince George needs to add a significant number of additional RCMP officers due to the higher-than-average caseload per officer in the city. At an approximate cost of $200,000 per officer per year, would you support increasing the city’s annual RCMP budget to act on the recommendations of the report? Why or why not?
No. The taxpayers already spend nearly 40 per cent (over $54 million) of their entire tax pool on protective services. I feel we can re-prioritize our policing efforts and achieve much better results. Additionally, adequately addressing the homeless issue will alleviate some of the pressure on our officers. I also feel the city needs to take a more proactive approach with the province to ensure crown prosecutors actually prosecute those who continually break the law.
Police officers arrest and then continue to rearrest the same individuals over and over as there is seemingly no consequence for their criminal behaviour. This discourages the officers and the public and continues to consume valuable policing resources.
I believe in throwing money at solutions, not problems.
If the Prince George RCMP presents city council with a solid plan to improve enforcement, reduce crime and lower caseloads, I’ll be the first one with my hand in the air to vote for more police officers.
Mitchell did not respond to the Citizen’s request for comment as of Friday afternoon. This story will be updated, should Mitchell respond at a later date.
Policing costs will have to be increased to deal with the crime happening in the downtown areas: this increased policing is part of my plan to deal with the homeless issues.
The City has no actual jurisdiction to deal directly with health related issues: that is a Provincial area of jurisdiction. In the medium and long term we will want the Province to do the right thing and create a drug addiction and mental health facility in this area. Until that happens we will have problems with arson, assault, other property damage, security for people in the downtown, and enhanced expenses associated with emergency health responses to drug overdoses.
A first step is increased policing to reduce the incidence of crime; the second approach is to have all stakeholders agree on what the Province must do; the third step is to organize such stakeholders as a focused intense political action group to compel the government of the Province to create the needed facility to deal with addiction and mental health issues of homeless people.
We obviously cannot arrest our way out of this issue: what we can do is bring offenders into the criminal justice system and refer them, once they are in the system, to health related resources already in place. Those health related resources are quite limited, since they are funded and under the jurisdiction of the provincial government. We need to make the areas of the City affected by crime related to drug addiction and mental health issues safer, and less vulnerable to property damage.
No, more police officers will not solve the problem. A refocus of current priorities of the RCMP needs to considered towards services such as Car 60.
Before committing to additional resources and consequential property tax hikes, we need to understand the entire challenge.
The RCMP are facing a significant recruiting crisis due to a lack of resources and retirements. Until we address “catch and release” justice approaches and get tougher on repeat and violent offenders, the revolving door justice system will result in significant caseloads for current officers.
We need to work with senior governments to address core issues within the justice system and determine sustainable staffing levels for Prince George’s RCMP.