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Prince George needs 30+ more RCMP, civilian staff, experts find

Prince George is one of the most crime-ridden cities in B.C., and local RCMP officers carry caseloads 84% above average, according to a report going before council on Wednesday.
RCMP detachment2017
Prince George needs more than 30 additional RCMP officers and civilian support staff to meet the demands facing the detachment, a consultant report says.

Prince George RCMP officers are facing “an untenable situation”  which is “compromising public safety and threaten the mental health and well-being of officers,” according to a report going to city council on Wednesday.

The detachment is under-resourced and the city needs 19 additional uniformed police officers, 10 additional civilian support staff, an unknown number of additional data entry personnel and a “peer navigator” based in the Prince George Public Library, over the next five years, the report authors wrote.

“There are significant gaps in the capacity of the detachment to effectively prevent and respond to crime and contribute to the overall safety, security, and quality of life in the community,” the report authors wrote. “This includes the ability to adequately respond to demands for service, engage in proactive community engagement, develop strategic partnerships with community stakeholders, and to implement effective crime prevention, crime attack, and crime response strategies. In addition, chronic understaffing is placing the mental health and well-being of the Sworn Officers and Municipal Employees in the detachment at risk.”

Simon Fraser University professor of criminology and consultant Curt Taylor, along with professors Eli Sopow from University Canada West and Joshua Murphy of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, were hired by the City of Prince George this year to conduct a review of the resources and service levels at the Prince George RCMP detachment. City council will receive the report during a committee of the whole meeting planned for Wednesday afternoon.
Crime and social issues linked to drug use have been rising rapidly in Prince George, the report authors noted.

“In 2021, Prince George had a Criminal Code crime rates 150 (per cent) higher than the average for all RCMP served municipalities over 15,000 in population in the province,” the report authors wrote.

In 2020, there were a total of 17,204 Criminal Code offences reported in Prince George – the third-highest in B.C after Vancouver and Surrey - according to provincial data. Prince George’s crime rate that year was 209, the highest among B.C. municipalities with 15,000 or more people and more than twice the average of 83. Among all B.C. communities with 5,000 or more people, Prince George had the third highest crime rate in the province, after Williams Lake (248) and Quesnel (229).

Last year the violent crime rate in the city was 66 per cent higher than the B.C. average and the property crime rate is 166 per cent higher than in other larger B.C. cities, the authors wrote. There has been a more than 400 per cent increase in the rate of illicit drug overdose deaths in the city between 2012 and 2022. The volume of ambulance calls in the city has increased 34 per cent between 2017 and 2022 and “many of the calls are… due to illicit drug overdoses,” the authors added.

In an October report to council, the Prince George Fire Rescue Service reported that 61 per cent of its calls are for medical emergencies, including many illicit drug overdoses, while only 26 per cent of call outs involve fires.


“Prince George Municipal RCMP officers have an individual caseload burden 84 (per cent) higher than the average for all BC RCMP policed municipalities over 15,000 in population,” the report authors wrote. “Officers consistently responded to more calls per Police Officer than the average for all 32 RCMP-served municipalities in BC with a population above 15,000. Also in 2021, Prince George RCMP had 336 calls for service per member, 41 (per cent) higher than the provincial average for all municipal RCMP detachments serving populations over 15,000.”

A fully-staffed patrol watch at the detachment is 17 officers, with 10 to 11 considered the minimum.

“At times, however, there are as few as 7–8 Patrol Officers on the road,” the authors wrote. “Analysis of the calls for service in the detachment found that the demands on Patrol Officers are consistent throughout the week. This pattern is reflective of the pervasiveness of crime and disorder in the community and the increased burden on patrol officers.”

As a result of the demands, Prince George RCMP have little capacity to do anything but respond to calls, the report authors wrote.

“The detachment currently has virtually no capacity to do community policing, including proactive community engagement, police-community partnerships, crime prevention, and problem solving,” the authors wrote. “Previously existing programs and units have been discontinued and officer resources directed to front-line call response.”


Between 2014 and 2022, the Prince George RCMP requested 26 additional members, of which 15 were approved – increasing the nominal detachment size from 128 officers in 2014 to 143 in 2022, city director of public safety Adam Davey wrote in his supplemental report. However, the actual budgeted police strength of the detachment only grew from 121 officers to 128 officers during that time.

City staff are recommended increasing the city’s policing budget by roughly $1 million per year, each year between 2023 and 2027 to hire approximately four additional RCMP officers and two additional civilian staffers per year, Davey wrote. The consultant report outlines specifically where those officers and positions should go, to achieve the best results.

The report authors recommended hiring four school resource officers in 2023, at an estimated annual cost of $840,000. In addition, city staff are seeking $167,000 to hire a forensic video technician and Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) system operator.

The proposed budget enhancements will be considered by city council during budget deliberations in January. The city of Prince George has anticipated a 7.22 per cent property tax increase will be needed just to maintain current service levels.

Editor's Note: This story has been corrected. A previous version of this story said the city's crime rate was 150 times higher than comparable cities, not 150 per cent higher. The error was published in the consultant report and presentation slides prepared by the report authors. The report authors verbally corrected the error during their presentation to city council on Wednesday.