(Surrey Now-Leader file photo)

Cuts to provincial policing budget not expected to affect Smithers public saftety: RCMP

Province working with force to address project $10 million budget deficit

The Smithers RCMP detachment commander says he does not anticipate projected cuts to the force’s provincial budget will impact local public safety.

“What I’ve been told from our higher ups is that we’re the front line and the idea is not to affect general duty policing and the cuts would come from support services and things like that,” said Staff Sgt. Terry Gillespie.

He noted that locally the detachment is within budget and although they may have to curtail certain discretionary spending, such as new equipment purchases, there would be no rollback of positions, hours or patrols.

Acting mayor Gladys Atrill said at this point the Town had received no information that gives her cause for concern.

The RCMP must cut more than $10 million from its policing costs in B.C., as first reported by the Vancouver Sun after obtaining a copy of an internal email from the province’s top Mountie, Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, to all staff.

The Mounties’ B.C. division has not returned a request for comment.

B.C.’s public safety minister said the government is working with the RCMP to address projected cuts to the force’s provincial budget.

In a statement to Black Press Media on Thursday, Mike Farnworth said the RCMP has informed the province about a projected budget deficit, and the impact of budget constraints and inflation has become increasingly difficult to to manage.

“This has not impacted significant and continued provincial and federal investments into gangs and organized crime initiatives and prevention,” he said, adding that includes the integrated anti-gang team and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

READ MORE: RCMP has ‘no’ dedicated money laundering investigators in B.C. (April 8, 2019)

Brian Sauve, president of the National Police Federation, said he’s seen the internal email, and called the projected $10-million gap “deeply concerning.”

His main questions focus on how to maintain adequate levels of service and ensure staff receive enough down time. He said he’s seen mention of a “possible freeze” in staffing areas such as transfers and promotions.

However, Sauve said a lack of funding is nothing new.

“Whether it has to do with extra work or working harder to get the job done, they’ll still do it,” he told Black Press Media by phone.

The RCMP has not had union representation until now. The federation was finally certified as the official bargaining agent earlier this year following a historic court ruling in 2015.

Sauve said it will take time to influence budget and other negotiations, but he hopes to provide “the other side of the story” soon.

KEEP READING: Feds announce $10M for RCMP to fight money laundering (June 13, 2019)

ALSO: Surrey’s new police force must avoid VPD, RCMP errors in Pickton case, Wally Oppal says

– With files from Thom Barker

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