Approximately 10 Keremeos residents met with civic officials and RCMP Sergeant Kurt Lozinski to discuss an escalating problem the village is having with a number of transients who are basing themselves out of the Farmworkers Campground.
Tales of public indecency, threats of violence, trespass, theft, and even assault were described to the sergeant, who was on the receiving end of a sternly worded message by Mayor Despot to end the rhetoric and do some policing to resolve what is a perennial issue in the community.
The frustration was evident – on both sides, and at the end of the meeting it seemed that little had been accomplished with respect to increased police action and resolve towards handling the problem.
Village merchants feel they are not being protected from transients who have no respect for the law.
Police are frustrated because prosecution of these individuals is nearly impossible.
The police may also be constrained by an entrenched bureaucracy that dictates what issues get their attention – and those priorities contradict what local citizens would like the police to be doing.
If that is the case, it is unfortunate – because the police are paying a high price in the public relations department for their inability to bring a sense of justice to small communities like Keremeos. It may be “small potatoes” crime, but it is high profile crime in this village, and when these activities go unpunished, there is a withering sense of community spirit, morale, and faith in the rule of law. There is a cost to not resolving the annual transient issue that never appears in police statistics – or balance sheets.