The addition of 10 new RCMP officers next year will go a long way toward helping police deal with the city’s escalating crime rate.
But it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
On Monday the city council announced its unanimous decision to bolster the ranks in a move Chilliwack mayor Sharon Gaetz rightly called “unprecedented.”
The decision follows an earlier rewrite of the city’s budget that led to more police resources this year.
But faced with a disturbing increase in property crimes, and public outcry following the shocking murder in a crowded shopping plaza, more resources were clearly needed.
The additional officers should come as little surprise to anyone who attended the recent public outreach meetings hosted by city councillors. There were clear hints at that time more money was coming for policing in next year’s budget.
Monday’s announcement, said Mayor Gaetz, was necessary to alert the provincial government of Chilliwack’s intention.
The intention will carry a cost. Every new police officer added costs an estimated $168,000 – not just in salary and benefits, but also to equip and support.
And a decision will have to be made on where the estimated $1.7 million will come from: service reductions, or increased taxes.
Clearly there is an appetite for more police in Chilliwack and a willingness to pay for them.
But there is more that we can do.
As Coun. Ken Popove and RCMP Supt. Deanne Burleigh pointed out Monday, crime is a community problem that requires a community response.
Police are part of that response, but the public can do its bit as well.
Through simple crime prevention techniques we can lessen the likelihood that we will become a victim of crime.
And it’s not that complicated. Lock your vehicle; keep valuables out of sight; lock your doors; keep your property well-lit and trim the bushes away from your windows.
Not only does this help you, it helps the police. Every crime that is prevented is one less file police have to respond to, process and close – leaving them to deal with the truly bad people that exist in our community.