Coquitlam RCMP wants to add six officers to its staff to deal with rising traffic complaints, a backlog of sex crimes and increases in domestic violence and missing persons cases.
Supt. Sean Maloney appeared before Coquitlam’s finance committee Monday requesting $639,600 for four of the six positions. The detachment will be making another financial request to Port Coquitlam council to pay for the other two.
Although several Coquitlam councillors told him the public is always asking for more officers on the street, Maloney admitted only the traffic position would fit that criteria. He said while the detachment has high school liaison officers, it would like two more youth officers to fill in the gap with middle and elementary schools because gangs are recruiting youth as young as eight years old.
“We are barely servicing the high schools right now. We want to focus on the youth outside of the schools and the community centres. We want to target the at-risk youth and get to them before they are targeted for gangs,” said Maloney.
He’s also asking for funding to add two officers to the sex crimes unit to help deal with a backlog of files, both active and unsolved. As well, he said the domestic violence team “has three members and they are having trouble keeping pace.”
In addition to the request for more officers, the detachment also wants $75,200 to hire a digital extraction technician to work with the major crimes unit to pull evidence from computer hard drives, smartphones and other data storage devices. Maloney said currently, the detachment is paying an officer overtime to do the work and there would be an annual saving of $53,000 if a municipal employee could do it.
Coun. Bonita Zarrillo said she will be supporting the requests.
“I’m heartbroken to hear what the detachment has to deal with and what society has to deal with,” she said.
Maloney’s presentation said without the additions, policing expenses are budgeted at $37.84 million for 2019. The detachment has 236 officers, with 160 allocated to Coquitlam, 73 to Port Coquitlam and three to provincial work, according to the report.
In 2018, Maloney said, the detachment saved some money and filled some vacancies by converting three members back to regular duty by having municipal employees carry out their previous responsibilities.
Maloney’s presentation said there were 26,457 calls for service in Coquitlam in 2018, an increase of 2.3%. Collisions with injuries or fatalities went from 178 to 169, a drop of 5.1%, while collisions involving property damage dropped from 906 to 791, a decrease of 12.7%. Break and enters fell from 641 in 2017 to 522, a 18.6% decline; but auto theft went up 3.2%, from 1,423 to 1,469.