A petition demanding more police officers for the Town of Princeton has not ruffled the feathers of local RCMP.
“I really don’t have an opinion on it,” Sergeant Barry Kennedy, detachment commander, said in an interview with The Spotlight last week.
“It’s nice to see that they would like more officers here and they are petitioning so I guess it’s a way of making a request for more officers.”
The Princeton RCMP detachment currently has seven fulltime officers. According to Kennedy, the number of officers assigned to each community is not determined by population, but by the number of criminal files open at any detachment.
He said he believes frustration and fear over drug crimes is motivating the petitioners.
“I think there are a group of citizens that are fed up with the drugs that are in town and they want something done about it and are wanting more police officers out here to help combat the problem.”
JoAnne Tomusiak is one of the organizers of the petition, which can be found at several retail locations in town. She is the grandmother who initiated a well-publicized meeting last month with local politicians and police regarding drug use in Princeton.
“Due to the very high crime and drug rate in our town, the people of Princeton are requesting for our safety, more RCMP officers be assigned in our community and area,” Tomusiak told the Spotlight.
She said the petition will be delivered to MP Alex Atamanenko to be read in the House of Commons.
The petition reads “[the] RCMP’s lack of manpower in our area affect their ability to meet the increasing demand of this community due to the rise in the criminal activity involving home and business break ins, home invasions, thefts and drug use, luring and sales. Facing this notable increase we are requesting more RCMP officers be assigned in our community of Princeton BC and districts.
Kennedy acknowledged a recent surge in local break-ins and thefts, but said police are unable to tie those crimes to the drug trade at this time.
He also noted the detachment’s success with drug crime in the last 18 months, laying serious charges against two drug dealers and forcing a third drug dealer to leave town.
“If you’ve picked off three of the top drug dealers in a town this size, that’s pretty significant,” he said.
Kennedy said he believes the recent heightened awareness regarding drug crime in Princeton has started to result in more calls to police about suspicious activity and will lead to further arrests.
“We’re getting an increase of intelligence in who the drug dealers are so that part is working I guess. We can say the awareness is starting to bring results.”