Two Mounties aren’t enough policepower for RCMP detachments in Beaver Creek and Faro, a recent in-house RCMP study has concluded.
On Monday, the Yukon government heeded the force’s calls for more staff, providing the RCMP — which it employs on a 20-year contract — with $388,000 to hire two constables for Beaver Creek and Faro, as well as two administrative clerks for Whitehorse.
That means there will now be three officers staffing both the Beaver Creek and Faro detachments.
“Every year, I think the RCMP with its contracting partner, do an assessment,” said Yukon Justice department analyst and spokesperson Dan Cable.
“One of the issues that was identified is that in those two-person detachments it’s very hard on the officers to be at those detachments, for the simple reason that with two people it’s difficult to take time off.”
Day-to-day work at the two-person RCMP detachments often requires more than one officer to be on duty, which can overwork staff when sickness, training or family matters require days to be taken off, he said.
The money is being spent on salaries and benefits for the new employees and will not be used to purchase new equipment, said Cable.
Adding more officers will improve the RCMP’s ability to respond in a “timely manner,” said Justice Minister Marian Horne in a news release about the new money.
Was the RCMP in Beaver Creek and Faro unable to respond to calls quickly in the past?
“I think it was, but it stretches the staff,” said Cable. “Whenever somebody’s sick or has to leave for family issues or is out for training, then you’ve got to do the big shuffle.
“This makes it a lot easier in terms of managing staffing needs and also keeping people reasonably well-rested and not working tons of overtime,” he said.
The new money comes one week after territorial Judge Karen Ruddy issued a critical judgment of the RCMP’s handling of six men charged in a 2005 marijuana grow-op bust in Whitehorse. The Mounties seized 4,500 pot plants.
Following a voir dire to determine what evidence can be used in a trial for the six accused — who face more than 100 charges — Ruddy found the RCMP violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in several instances during the bust and investigation.
The announcement also follows Project Meander, which, in the summer of 2006, saw the RCMP spend about $70,000 on a sting that confiscated 31 grams of marijuana.
The Crown dropped 12 of 17 original charges laid in the investigation because the courts found that the RCMP entrapped the accused.
And two more went free because police failed to provide evidence to the court within a reasonable time period.
The RCMP is contracted by the Yukon government.
A mid-term review of that 20-year contract was carried out in 2002, and the contract itself comes up for renewal in 2012, said Cable.
Will these recent concerns be addressed in that review, despite not being addressed in the recent in-house RCMP review of its staffing levels?
“In any negotiation for setting up a new contract, which is due in 2012, we discuss all matters related to the RCMP,” said Cable.
“Criticism is one thing. But actually whether or not that translates into the RCMP doing a bad job, I don’t know,” he said.
“Obviously the government has an interest in spending the taxpayers’ money wisely and providing the best police service that can be bought. So if there’s things to be addressed, there’s things to be addressed.”
The yearly resource study focuses only on staffing, added RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Roger Lockwood.
But the force meets with the government and the Crown on a regular basis to discuss larger issues, he said.
“Policework is constantly evolving,” said Lockwood. “We’re constantly meeting and constantly reviewing all of our work. That’s nothing new. There’s always a better way of doing things.”