A presentation on policing priorities was made on January 17 by RCMP Staff Sergeant Steven Wright to the District of Sooke’s Committee of the Whole.
Wright spent his time at the podium making numerous comments and inviting elected officials and staff to share their opinions as well.
Mayor Janet Evans and Chief Administrative Officer Evan Parliament each made flattering comments to Sooke’s top cop. Parliament described him as a “worthy replacement” for his well-admired predecessor – S. Sgt. Roger Plamondon who had ended his Sooke posting with a transfer to Ladysmith.
The local detachment head (who arrived in Sooke on December 1, 2009) began by declaring his willingness to maintain a relationship with local district council and staff.
He listed off some areas on which to focus in the coming couple of years, including:
• community relations
• crime reduction
• personal safety/homelessness.
“I think we can do better,” said S. Sgt. Wright who then made a request of the C.O.W. that they feel free to provide ongoing input to the local police.
“What do you hear from the public?” he asked. “What is desired from law enforcement?”
He said he’d like to see a reduction in motor vehicle accidents and an increase the number of citizens reporting incidents.
On a positive note he pointed to the absence of any traffic fatalities of late.
“We’ve been fortunate this past year in terms of traffic safety,” he said as he put out the welcome mat for suggestions.
Councillor Rod Dumont was first up, putting the spotlight on domestic violence. He wondered aloud about the link between economic worries and domestic violence.
Sergeant Wright said he felt alcohol was a significant factor as well, and agreed with Councillors Dumont and David Bennett that they’re all related.
Bennett went on to comment on his disappointment with the recent, well-publicized case of a Kelowna police officer assaulting a civilian.
“No one is more disappointed than police officers when this sort of thing happens,” said Wright. “We spend a lot of time and effort on building good relations with the public.”
Councillor Bev Berger talked about negative feelings toward police and how, in certain cases, they can be attributed to parental influence. She said she felt greater effort should be devoted to promoting positive attitudes toward police among children.
Councillor Maja Tait focused upon the vulnerability of senior citizens in their homes.
As an example she talked about aggressive and opportunistic sales people who prey upon the elderly in person and by phone.
The staff sergeant made notes as all these issues were addressed.
Councillor Sheila Beech noted the high speeds used on Sooke Road and other routes in the early morning hours.
The mayor concurred, and used Grant Road as another example of a problem spot for speeders.
Staff Sergeant Wright’s segment was concluded after about 45 minutes. It was wrapped up with his promise that he would take all the points raised, into consideration.