Sooke’s top cop asks council for staff increase

Sooke’s top cop asks council for staff increase

Two new positions needed to deal with growth

Sooke’s top cop says he needs more officers to police the town.

Staff Sgt. Jeff McArthur, in his quarterly presentation to Sooke council, says the new positions are needed to deal with growth and an increasing number of complex policing issues.

Census data released in 2016 revealed the Sooke Region is among one of the fastest growing communities ­in the country.

“I think we can make a strong case for two more officers, and plan for one more per year after that unless growth is higher over what we predict,” McArthur said.

The RCMP employs 17 officers in Sooke. Thirteen officers are paid by Sooke; four are paid by the province for rural duties within the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.

Last year, Sooke council agreed to hire two more police officers.

“The majority of our time is spent spent investigating crime against persons such as assault, domestic violence and sex offences that’s the reality of any growing community and more officers would be helpful,” McArthur said.

Mayor Maja Tait said she would like to see data on the need for additional officers.

“We need to ask how this would improve the safety of our community and where the resources are being diverted,” she said.

For years, council has asked for 24-hour police coverage, but due to a limited number of officers it hasn’t been possible. The local detachment currently works on a 21-hour staggered cycle.

McArthur said he would need at least four more officers for a full 24-hour schedule.

Along with the request to Sooke for more officers, the RCMP have also made a request to the province for two more rural officers.

As Sooke continues to grow, so does the crime – and the police bill.

Once the community tops the 15,000 population threshold, Sooke will need to cover 90 per cent of its policing costs, from the current 70 per cent.

It costs $165,000 to fund one RCMP position.

Last year the police budget was $1.6 million.

The Sooke RCMP detachment covers an area from East Sooke to Port Renfrew.