EDITORIAL – Social issues call for tiered approach to policing

(Image: Armchair Mayor)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

AS DEMANDS ON POLICING become more and more onerous, it’s obvious some new ways of doing things are needed.

Under a pilot program in Toronto, for example, first-time shoplifters won’t be charged because it’s a low priority for police.

Here at home, RCMP and City Hall agree — traditional policing isn’t always the first and best answer when it comes to situations involving things like opioids and homelessness. It’s a matter both of what works best for people, and what’s most cost-effective.

That’s where re-vamping law enforcement into a tiered policing system makes sense.

Kamloops Coun. Mike O’Reilly thinks the City should look into hiring special constables as an intermediate-level enforcement tool, kind of halfway between bylaws officers and police.

They would be paid more than regular bylaws officers but less that RCMP members. Given the multi-million-dollar cost of policing, it could be a major saving.

O’Reilly raised the issue at a budget meeting after seeing a report to Kelowna City councilfrom former RCMP superintendent Bill McKinnon, who recommended that Kelowna form a committee on the social impacts of crime.

That report, and O’Reilly’s interest in special constables, is bang on with the direction Kamloops needs to go in the longer run. As Supt. Syd Lecky acknowledged in responding to O’Reilly’s interest, police are “an agency of last resort.”

McKinnon’s report proposes upgrading some bylaws officers to peace officer status. It’s called a Level 3 and would take significant training but would be a cost-effective way of increasing community safety.

It’s not in the City’s immediate budget plans but that might change the next time the City faces the prospect of hiring more police officers.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (7768 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Social issues call for tiered approach to policing

  1. I’m not seeing how this would solve the problem. Nobody seems to know what to do with people, even if they are caught in the middle of an offense. It appears that the police don’t want to deal with a homeless or drug addicted criminal. By-law enforcement just shuffle them along to the next area. What would this middle tier do that would be different? This criminal element appears untouchable in our current political climate. Offer shelter and safe drug sites and turn a blind eye to everything that comes with it, including the crime used to fuel the drugs. More enforcement isn’t the answer until there is an actual plan to help these people and reduce the impact they have on others.

  2. Lorraine Winter // December 7, 2018 at 12:22 PM // Reply

    Worth exploring. We have triage in ER at RIH.

  3. I have contacted Mike and the three other new councillors about this idea. At this point, it will mean awaiting feedback and perhaps getting together with Mike as well as any others who may have a new perspective on this.

  4. Robert Bruce // December 6, 2018 at 3:55 PM // Reply

    So, to me the question here starts with, will this become a money tiered system?
    We start paying for lesser positions, to deal with things the cops feel they are above???
    Do we have bylaw goons shuffling along the homeless, because the expensive cops have to be available to collect money from me because I parked like a ^&*^&* ( and I’m a white homeowner with money) . But they have to do that to be able to collect in court?
    I’ve already seen the cop show up and walk away when dealing with homeless at my house. I’ll go to jail if I beat the crap out of the criminal breaking into my car. But when I call a cop, she looks at him- or where he’s hiding across the street and drives away…hiring a lesser goon won’t help. Telling the present ones to do their job, might. ( That would take a backbone that most politicians don’t have).
    The issues with the homeless and mentally ill wandering our streets, have far more to do with Ms.Mcleod and the crappy cons, and then our 2 liberals(socreds), than with the city. But even with saying all that…we aren’t Winnipeg. Maybe if they told a few of those RCMP’s to get out of the cars and walk around downtown. There’d be less issues.
    Or get rid of the 30 year old cameras and technician in the cctv van, for the cost of that (remember the cost for one camera was 120k) and put up modern systems, with cameras all around the city….it might help. But with our luck we’d get something like the parking meters- because if the city’s gonna buy it, it will be crap.

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