The agenda for the District of Sooke’s Committee of the Whole meeting of April 4 was dedicated to one item – the Sooke RCMP Detachment’s Annual Performance Plan for 2011-2012. Staff Sergeant Steve Wright was on hand to deliver the news along with Cpl. Jaswinder Mandaher – a member whom has been with the detachment since last August.
The report was accompanied by 46 pages of internal documentation which included the plan for 2010-2011.
Detachment goals were condensed at the outset as Wright described crime reduction, reduction of alcohol-related crashes, property crime and substance abuse as priorities. He told council an increase in Citizen’s Patrol activity is expected; that no traffic fatalities had occurred in two years and complaints of youth disturbances were down 31 per cent over the previous year.
Mayor Evans mentioned she’d noticed a decrease in the evidence of vandalism in the community.
Councillor Dumont asked the staff sergeant about staffing levels and learned the local detachment was working with a comparatively lean 10-member force. The proper manpower level is 15 members.
Various factors are responsible for the personnel shortage – including injury, illness, and circumstances such as a pending home sale to pave the way for a transfer. Wright indicated a member is expected from Newfoundland in May and a fresh recruit is also scheduled to arrive from Regina in the near future.
The RCMP spokesman reverted to his prepared material, touching upon the format of the performance plan itself – how in depth priorities and goals were set out in advance, to be dealt with in a “proactive, purpose-driven” fashion.
He described the plan as an adaptable document – developed and advanced throughout the year.
The cooperative nature of the plan’s creation was apparent in the agenda. Corporal Cottingham’s initiative towards safer youth, for example. Her participation with the Drug Addiction Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program has been noted each spring over the past several years. This sort of work comes under the “strategic priorities” heading that also includes a forecasted five drug investigations involving youth, and six anti-bullying presentations given.
As for community involvement, one of the staff sergeant’s own initiatives is to foster a positive image. He’s “directing detachment members to attend First Nations communities on a regular basis, to attend cultural events and other events to enhance our presence in their community.”
It’s the staff sergeant’s own plan to personally attend more Chief and Band Council meetings.
Mayor Evans opened the topic of signs identifying “high-accident” locations and whether they would be showing up anywhere within the district. Wright indicated they probably would be at some point although he was not sure when.
Coun. Tait wondered about the restorative justice concept… how prevalent and effective it is in regard to local young offenders, vandals, for instance.
“Definitely effective,” Wright responded, “…helps to demonstrate consequences.”
Wright later told the Sooke News Mirror that the restorative justice model operates on the Westshore and is “something we should be looking at.”
Coun. Berger noted the departure of Cpl. Hilderley, who had been heavily involved with local youth-related activities. Hilderley is now based in Victoria. Berger wanted to know the current state of police/youth involvement. She learned reserve constable Scott Rothermel (who also carries the title of community liason officer with SD#62) has served, and continues to serve actively in that area and continues to collaborate with Hilderley.