Two top cops addressed Salmon Arm council Monday.
Sgt. Andrew Hunter, who has been filling two roles as acting detachment commander and operations commander, provided the year’s first-quarter statistics to council.
Hunter also introduced Sgt. Scott West, who is leaving the Sicamous detachment and will be taking over as Salmon Arm’s new detachment commander, tentatively on June 22.
West said he’s had diverse experience in his career, which has included nearby postings in Kelowna and Kamloops as well as farther north. His roles have included special sections work, with a focus on preventing undesirables from inhabiting the community.
He said it’s key to quickly identify who’s carrying out crimes and to deal with them as speedily as possible.
Central to his philosophy, he said, is listening to the community.
“What’s important to them is important to me. That’s my philosophy.”
West said he and his spouse and two children live in Salmon Arm, where he’s been drawn in to coaching and referee roles.
Once West takes over as detachment commander, Hunter will be devoting all his time to his job as operations commander.
Regarding statistics, Hunter said there’s been an overall decrease in offences compared to the first quarter of 2014.
He noted that drug investigations, however, have increased. That’s due to ongoing work by plainclothes officers who continue to target all new and known drug dealers, always recommending charges to Crown counsel.
Hunter said a couple of days prior to the council meeting, officers intercepted a dealer with six grams of methamphetamine with a street value of $2,500.
“Not only have we sent him packing, he won’t be back here other than court.”
Also included in the statistics, along with meth, cocaine and heroin, are marijuana possession and trafficking.
“Marijuana is still classified as a Scheduled 2 narcotic under the Controlled Drug and Substance Act and we will continue to enforce the law and investigate marijuana cases,” Hunter said, noting pot investigations often lead to property crimes and other hard drugs.
Coun. Kevin Flynn asked about an increase in sexual assaults.
“Those involve youths and dating relationships but due to their ages that’s all I can say,” Hunter remarked.
There is good news on the staffing front, he said, as by the beginning of July, 21 officers out of a full complement of 24 will be working on the road.
The detachment has been plagued by significant vacancies for some time.
“In a short span, the officers from Kitimat, Burns Lake and Grand Forks all sold their houses and the officer posted in Vernon just received his transfer papers. As a result, two of them are here and already working, one starts this week and the last one on June 21. This has made a huge, positive impact on our scheduling and, as a result, we are going into the summer at 80 per cent strength.”
Flynn said, in his years on council, having a near-complete complement of officers will be a first.
“I hope we can target semi-trucks running our lights,” he said.