Residents on N.L.'s west coast want more RCMP officers on their streets, mayor says

·2 min read
Residents on the southwest coast of Newfoundland want more police presence in their communities, according to one mayor in the region. (CBC - image credit)
Residents on the southwest coast of Newfoundland want more police presence in their communities, according to one mayor in the region. (CBC - image credit)

Some residents on the southwest coast of Newfoundland are feeling there's not enough policing in the area and want to see more of an RCMP presence on the streets in their communities.

Outgoing Port aux Basques Mayor John Spencer told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning the detachment in his community gradually dropped from nine police officers to six, and of those six officers only four were available for duty over the summer.

Spencer isn't seeking re-election in the upcoming municipal election.

"Area residents from Rose Blanche through to the Codroy Valley are concerned they're not seeing enough policemen on their streets and they want a greater police presence," Spencer said.

Spencer said it's because of the smaller police presence that a public meeting was called last week.

He said the biggest concern among residents during the public meeting was speeding and ATV use on rural roads. He said 15 to 20 communities just aren't seeing officers on patrol in those areas.

Another issue, Spencer said, were concerns over drug use while operating vehicles.

"Speeding was definitely the dominant theme," he said.

Clare Hennig/CBC
Clare Hennig/CBC

In the spring the RCMP removed what would have been a seventh member of the Port aux Basques detachment's roster and placed that officer in Stephenville as a sergeant, according to Spencer.

Spencer said the move didn't make sense for the area.

"You take a sergeant position out of Port aux Basques, place it down in Stephenville where there's already I think 29 members ... they're concerned," he said.

"We've had a lot of communication, right up to the head of the RCMP for the province. They are concerned but they're saying it's fiscal. It's efficiencies, they don't have the budget until the budget is ironed out with the province. We have to face these new realities of fewer policemen on our streets."

The provincial government funds 70 per cent of the RCMP's budget for officers in Newfoundland and Labrador. Spencer said government officials sat in on a province-wide meeting earlier this summer, but nothing concrete in terms of increasing the police presence followed.

He said the problem likely hasn't gotten easier, pointing to an announcement from Ottawa to increase salaries of RCMP officers. According to the RCMP, as of April 1, 2022 a constable will make up to $106,576 a year — a jump of $20,000.

"I know the problem is not going to go away for the province, but it doesn't help us in rural Newfoundland when we have 9,000 people in an area spread out over hundreds of kilometres," Spencer said.

CBC News requested comment from the RCMP on Monday afternoon but did not receive one by time of publication.

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