NANAIMO — After holding off for years, Nanaimo's City Council has agreed to pay for three new RCMP officers and two new administrative staff.
Mayor Bill McKay told NanaimoNewsNOW the decision had been constantly deferred by council since they weren't looking at the big picture.
“We've constantly looked at stats and crime rates going down, so of course it's difficult to justify new officers when crime rates are going down, yet calls for service have gone up significantly.”
Nanaimo RCMP Supt. Cameron Miller said there was a 13 per cent increase over the last year in the number of files handled by police, to nearly 43,000.
McKay said the days of RCMP officers being able to provide all the required paperwork for the court system in a few hours is long gone and it now takes several days to finish all the forms.
“We had uniformed officers taken off the beat, taken off the street, finding themselves filling out paperwork when we could do that with far less money by using City administrative staff.”
The request for new officers has stretched back years. McKay said a plan was formulated in 2009 suggesting 24 new officers would be needed by the 2016-2017 year.
To date, 15 new officers have been added, bringing the total number of officers in the detachment to 143.
“This is a small step into providing (Nanaimo RCMP) with ample resources to do what we require at an efficient and effective cost.”
It's unclear when the new Mounties will arrive in Nanaimo.
Chief financial officer Victor Mema said the hiring will likely take between six and nine months.
If new Mounties are hired before the end of 2017, money to pay for their new positions will come from the RCMP reserve, Mema said.
The new hirings will require a tax increase to pay the $719,000 required, but at this time Mema said he couldn't speculate on how much of an increase it would be in next year's budget.
Note to readers: This story was updated to include comments from Nanaimo RCMP Supt. Cameron Miller.
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