The Regional District Protective Services Committee appeared to be pleased with police services in the region following a presentation by Inspector Brad Haugli, OIC Penticton South Okanagan Similkameen Detachment at the committee meeting on May 3.
Crime statistics showed reductions in every area of the region across most categories, Haugli told the committee.
Keremeos showed an increase in activity overall during the past two years, but fourth quarter results for 2011 showed significant improvements in most categories. Haugli attributed the turnaround to Keremeos detachment commander Mike Gallagher, who assumed command last August.
Several comments from directors indicated a continuing satisfaction with police services. Area “H” Director Brad Hope spoke of a personal incident involving theft where he felt the local police did an exemplary job. Summerland Director Janice Perrino and Princeton Director Frank Armitage both expressed satisfaction with police services in their communities.
Haugli noted that regional police issues often stemmed from chronic offenders and crimes related to drug and alcohol abuse. Mental health issues were also at the root of many incidents.
“Police are trying to think outside the box,” Haugli expressed, “and we are trying to work with social services so that those who want help can get it.”
Haugli also emphasized that perpetrators had to pay for their crimes, but it was also necessary that a system was in place to ensure that those who wanted help could get it, an idea that struck a chord with the directors.
Area “B” Director George Bush expressed the view that many offenders wanted the comforts of jail time.
“In my experience, I have had offenders tell me they were glad to go back,” Haugli answered. “There is a need for society to come up with strategies for those who are released from prison, to have a plan in place so that they can get help, if they are going that route – because now, if they walk out that door, there is nobody there to help them out.”
Bush agreed that there was a “big gap there,” expressing the view that governments were overlooking this aspect of the legal system.