Penticton RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager hopes his successor focuses on mental health and addiction issues, which he says underlie up to 60 or 70% of crime in the city.
“As the police chief, I’m not really doing my job if I’m only doing 30% of the work,” he said, Thursday. “I need to look at the big picture, and that’s the social issues and the things that we don’t send people to jail for.
“Our primary goal is community safety. The courthouse is filled every day with people we put there, (but) homelessness, poverty, addictions are not crimes. They’re health issues.”
He said his replacement hasn’t been chosen, and there’s no date set just yet on when he’s expected to make his transfer down to headquarters in Surrey for his new role as officer in charge of service delivery.
“That’s meeting our contract obligations, and putting police officers and figuring out what the most efficient deployment is. So that’s right up my alley,” he said.
De Jager reminded the community their cell phone is still the best line of defence against crime, and new apps such as LightCatch aren’t monitored by police.
“Our official engagement tool is Block Watch or Crime Stoppers,” he said. “There’s no way anyone is going to be able to connect … (to) our systems. So Light Catch is never going to talk to an RCMP system. Not currently, maybe in a year, 10 years, they’ll have the technology … but there will never be a connection.”
And while LightCatch pins crimes to certain areas, calling 911 will also help with RCMP statistics and creating their own heat map.
But De Jager said he’s a big fan of communities staying connected with one another, and neighbourhoods protecting neighbourhoods.
“Use anything that connects people,” he said. “But when it comes time … call us.”