New Chilliwack task force to take on criminality in a new way

Made-in-Chilliwack collaboration will be the heart of the task force, initiated by Mayor

A new Chilliwack task force will focus on prolific offenders, and approach community safety in a whole new way.

The ‘Integrated Community Safety Task Force,’ a select committee created by Mayor Ken Popove, will take on complex and layered issues with “interagency collaboration” in order to dig down deep, and get at the “root causes” of skyrocketing crime.

“The RCMP are just one part of the equation when it comes to addressing crime in our community,” said Mayor Popove. “We hope that this integrated approach helps address root causes and creates a positive impact.”

Prolific offenders, the small number committing a “disproportionate share of the crime,” tend to use up resources from RCMP, municipal, corrections, and the judicial system, so that is where the focus of the collaborative committee will be.

The new task force will be co-chaired by Coun. Bud Mercer, former RCMP assistant commissioner, and former Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hames.

Chilliwack has some of the highest rates of property crime and violent crime in the region, according to data from 2017-18 presented to Abbotsford city council by the Abbotsford Police Department.

READ MORE: Chilliwack property crime tops the region

That same presentation to Abbotsford council showed that Chilliwack has been suffering from sky-high crime rates while simultaneously spending the least on policing comparatively.

Public safety is routinely the largest line item in Chilliwack’s budget with policing at least 30 per cent of spending. But in a comparison of 15 agencies in communities from Victoria to Chilliwack, Chilliwack RCMP had the lowest per capita policing costs for 2016, while Victoria had the highest, Vancouver second highest, and Delta third.

The mayor is now hoping a “made-for-Chilliwack plan” will be the result of the new committee.

The new task force has a mandate to identify deterrents, as well as prevention, such as counselling, treatment, affordable housing, outreach and restorative justice.

“Over the past several years, Chilliwack City Council has responded to increasing criminal activity by adding more RCMP members and support staff to the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment. While these additions have helped police deal with increased caseloads, it does not address the root causes of criminal behaviour and the cycle of crime,” according to the news release about the new task force from City of Chilliwack.

The task force will avoid re-inventing the wheel by pledging to: “inventory the work done to date and look for interagency gaps and opportunities.”

Terms of reference for the task force, a “select committee” of council, were approved at city hall on Tuesday.

The members at the new task force table will come from government, health and social service agencies, including diverse reps from: Fraser Health, Crown Counsel, BC Corrections, RCMP, social services, judiciary, and Indigenous communities. The work of the task force will identify “opportunities for improved systems, processes and initiatives in Chilliwack,” and members are from government, health and social services, including diverse reps from: Fraser Health, Crown Counsel, BC Corrections, RCMP, social services, judiciary, and Indigenous communities.

READ MORE: Valley Sweep targeted prolific offenders


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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