Police board director Mike McIndoe

Police board presents status quo budget for 2014

Nelson Police Department won't be seeking a staffing increase in 2014

Nelson Police Department won’t be seeking a staffing increase in 2014, but chief constable Wayne Holland says the city should seriously consider bulking up the department in the future.

Nelson Police Board presented its provisional 2014 budget at a city council meeting Monday. The board is hoping for a $39,000 budget increase — for the cost of inflation and required salary increases for the unionized workers — to keep its 17 officers on the street with no increase in service over the current year.

The current police budget is about $2.7 million, which represents about nine per cent of every tax dollar. Other municipalities across BC dedicate, on average, about 14 per cent of tax revenue to policing.

Holland commended the city for keeping police costs relatively low, saying that budget restraints haven’t caused any deficiency in service.

“Nelson has done one heck of a good job in a very economical way,” he told council. “But eventually we’re going to need to get up to capacity.”

He compared Nelson to municipal police departments in Williams Lake, Oak Bay and Central Saanich, which have a similar population size. He said those departments have at least eight more officers than Nelson.

The Nelson department has no traffic section or major crimes unit. The general investigation department is just one person. There’s no dedicated school liaison officer.

In order to undertake a recent major drug investigation that put 15 drug dealers behind bars, Nelson police had to borrow undercover officers from elsewhere in BC. If there’s a homicide in the city, Kelowna RCMP would investigate it.

“It’s not a sustainable way to run a police department,” Holland said, noting that other departments bill the city for their service, which is okay if they only need them occasionally but if demand increases it becomes more cost effective to have local officers trained to handle the cases.

Inspector Paul Burkart pointed out that while national crime statistics show crime rates and crime severity has been dropping steadily, that’s not necessarily the case in Nelson.

In the past year, Nelson saw an increase in commercial break and enters — but that was largely due to one person who was eventually arrested. More loss prevention staff were hired in stores and shoplifting incidents jumped from 26 to 96 in one year. Mischief files, meanwhile, were down from 214 cases in 2012 to 159 this year.

Breaches of probation, dangerous and impaired driving, drug offenses and mental health calls were all up this year.

But it’s difficult to tell if the rate of crimes are changing or just the number of people being caught as policing priorities change, Burkart explained.

Holland asked council to sit down with the police board to hammer out a business case for increasing the number of police officers gradually over a number of year.

“We recognize times are tough … but we can’t lose sight of the fact we have fewer human resources [at the police department] than we did in 1995,” Holland said. “You can’t sustain a police force that way.”

Last year the police board requested at $124,000 budget increase, but council only approved an increase of about $54,000.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

The Regional District of Central Kootenay is no fan of the provincial STEP Code. File photo
RDCK board encouraged to ‘STEP’ forward with building code

RDCK directors have twice delayed adopting STEP Code standards

SD8 students can learn more about Métis culture, history, and language by participating in a variety of educational initiatives this month. Photo: Submitted
SD8 celebrates Métis Awareness Month

The district has a number of events planned in November

Numbers indicate positive COVID-19 tests, January through September. Map: BC Centre for Disease Control
Twenty-five cases of COVID-19 reported in Nelson, Castlegar and Trail in 2020

New data from the BC Centre for Disease Control shows numbers of cases per community

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson leaves the stage after announcing he is stepping down as party leader, during a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Too rural, not enough diversity, soul searching needed, say BC Liberals

Elections BC says there are about 600,000 mail-in and absentee ballots across the province still to count

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An elderly woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past an advertisement for a television series in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. has been under a COVID-19 state of emergency for more than half the year

Province has been under a state of emergency for 32 weeks – and counting

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Most Read