The president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce is calling for more Mounties to be posted to the Yukon, in response to the spike in break-ins and theft this summer.
Rick Karp said he believes the number of RCMP officers hasn’t kept pace with the population increase in the territory.
“They’re pushed to the limit,” he said. “We’re thinking that perhaps it’s time to review the staffing levels at the RCMP.”
Earlier this month, Karp focused on what businesses can do to prevent break-ins in an interview with the News. He said he still believes business owners have an important role to play in crime prevention.
But he said the high number of incidents this year, including several break-ins to non-profit organizations, has made him feel that the RCMP is short-staffed.
He said he’s also starting to hear more complaints from businesses.
“What we’re hearing fairly often… is that there’s a slow response to an incident,” he said.
In addition to calling for more officers, Karp suggested that more volunteers should sign up to the RCMP Auxiliary Constable Program to help with community policing.
He also said people should report all crimes to the police, even minor ones, so they can look for patterns and “find out where the hot spots are.”
“It’s a community effort that’s going to resolve this issue,” he said.
Whitehorse RCMP Inspector Archie Thompson said the public needs to work with the police to reduce crime and let officers focus on the most serious offenses. He said business owners should think about improving outside lighting and cutting back shrubbery so as not to give potential thieves a place to hide.
He added that homeowners should avoid leaving obvious signs that they are away from home, like allowing newspapers to pile up on their doorstep.
“Calls are definitely up,” he said. “We can really use assistance.”
The News recently reported that there have been three times as many break-ins to local businesses and organizations this year as there were by the same time in 2014. By July 30, there had been 59 reported break-and-enters.
This year’s targets include the Committee on Abuse in Residential Schools Society, the Copperbelt Railway and Mining Museum, the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter, the Boys and Girls Club, and Christ the King Elementary School.
Thompson said charges have been laid in 10 cases.
But in an email to the News, the Department of Justice said the Yukon has one of the highest per capita ratios of police officers to citizens in Canada, estimated at 370 officers per 100,000 citizens in 2014. That would mean there were approximately 137 officers in the territory last year, based on a population of about 37,000.
All funding for Yukon policing is administered by the Department of Justice, and is reviewed every year.
The department said it has added 28 members to the Yukon RCMP since 2007, including 18 regular and 10 civilian members. It has also appointed a crime reduction coordinator, an additional major crimes investigator, and a First Nations policing coordinator.
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