District adding one more RCMP officer

New officer will bring local police force to 16 members

Sooke RCMP is adding to its complement of police officers.

District of Sooke council has formally requested a change in its RCMP contract with the Justice Ministry, which will see one officer added by next fall.

The local RCMP detachment currently has 15 members. Eleven of those officers are funded by district taxpayers, the remaining four, or rural officers, are paid by the province.

It costs $165,000 to fully fund an RCMP position. Sooke pays 70 per cent of that cost, or $114,200. The remaining 30 per cent is funded by the province.

The Sooke RCMP detachment serves an area from Sooke to Port Renfrew, extending as far as Port Renfrew (82 kilometres west of Sooke).

Sooke operates closer to minimum than other detachments on the Island, said RCMP Staff Sgt. Jeff McArthur, adding Sidney with a comparable population has 32 officers.

Over the last 18  months the Sooke detachment has been operating at full strength, or even above normal strength, due to staff movement.

In the past the RCMP commander has called in Mounties on overtime, including from other detachments, as well as reserve constables to keep sufficient staffing levels.

The new police officer position to the detachment still will not give Sooke 24/7 coverage in Sooke.

McArthur said coverage is always available, as officers are on call, but it could mean in the early morning hours a response to a call may take longer.

“In the [Capital Regional District] we’re the only community without 24/7 coverage. It makes us a little more vulnerable to property crime,” he said.

Mayor Maja Tait said the detachment continues to adapt to the needs of the community and responds as needed.