Sooke RCMP are looking to add more members on their force, but they will have to seek approval from the District of Sooke before doing so. They say they need five additional members to accommodate 24-hour coverage of the region. (File - Black Press Media)

Sooke RCMP are looking to add more members on their force, but they will have to seek approval from the District of Sooke before doing so. They say they need five additional members to accommodate 24-hour coverage of the region. (File - Black Press Media)

Sooke needs more officers to accommodate 24-hour coverage

District’s official community plan calls for 1 officer per 1,000 people

RCMP are looking to add another police officer to the Sooke detachment to get a step closer to accommodating 24-hour coverage.

Seventeen police officers are stationed in Sooke – 13 as municipal officers and four as provincial – not enough to serve the region around the clock, Staff Sgt. Brett Sinden told Sooke council recently.

Sooke needs 22 officers, Sinden said.

Sooke RCMP patrol a vast area from East Sooke to Port Renfrew.

The Sooke detachment has consistently been behind in staffing for the region. The provincial standard for an RCMP member to the public is 1-for-744 residents, but Sooke is currently at 1-for-1,100.

If Sooke RCMP stay on track with the district’s official community plan to have one officer for every 1,000 people, they should have an additional officer in 2020 and 18 municipal officers by 2028.

If Sooke RCMP adopted one officer’s provincial standard for every 744 people in municipalities under 15,000, they should have had 19 municipal officers in 2019 and working towards 24 municipal officers by 2028.

Currently, Sooke is in the initial stages of developing its budget to accommodate another police officer by 2022, presented to council on Nov. 9.

Financial services director Raechel Gray said council is aware of the RCMP’s request for more officers and will be working closely with police to figure out the best time to bring extra members onto the force.

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Sooke has an extra member that isn’t being funded through the municipality or province budgets. “It’s been a bonus to have him, but we won’t have that forever,” Sinden said.

Sgt. Kevin Shaw from Sidney RCMP transferred to Sooke in March on a limited time-frame to accommodate another member. He’ll be assigned as the operations commander within the detachment, leaving a hole in a municipal position, plus an already vacant spot in the provincial position. That leaves two spots open on the force.

In 2019, police officers spent 78 per cent of their time responding to municipal calls and 22 per cent on provincial calls, which falls near in line with how staff resources are allocated.

“We are moving ahead in that direction [to bring an additional RCMP member] with staff recommendations,” said Mayor Maja Tait. “We’re just waiting to find out how the numbers will work out, but at this point, the council is supportive.”

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