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National Police Federation says vaccine passport enforcement requires more officers

The BC Director of the National Police Federation (NPF) is concerned about some recent comments from Premier John Horgan on how vaccine passports will be enforced.

Horgan’s statement mentioned that any businesses having difficulty with customers related to the passport should call their local detachment.

However, Rob Farrer told Vista Radio officers across the north including Prince George have enough on their plate, and calling the police should not be the go-to response.

“There are no officers especially in the outlying areas who are looking for things to do. They are all fully tasked and very busy as there are a lot of conflicting priorities. Adding these types of tasks is simply not really a doable thing. Of course, if it gets to a point where someone’s safety is at risk or a threat of violence then that is a role for the police but I think we have to be cautious of just calling the police if there is conflict.”

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“We don’t want the expectation to be initially that the first thing you do if somebody disputes this is to call the police and come check if it’s valid.”

Farrer added RCMP resources have been stretched thin this summer as over 650 members were deployed to respond to the wildfires as well as enforcing the Injunction at Ferry Creek on Vancouver Island.

He mentioned the pandemic has not been kind to detachments that are already short-staffed due to recruitment challenges.

“In terms of just training from the depot, normally we try to get out 12-hundred a year but last year, only 380 graduated and we had about 850 officers retire. So, we actually have fewer officers period than we did a year ago.”

Simply put, the NPF is of the opinion more stakeholder discussions need to take place at a local or provincial government level before a final decision on who enforces the proof of vaccination requirement is made.

“We want to make sure that there are consultations on these types of decisions with us and with bylaws. Is there a need for more police officers, are there additional resources required for public health officers since this is a public health crisis. We want to make sure that there is consultation on all these types of things to determine exactly who should be responding when and not just blanket it on to the RCMP.”

The NPF is presenting their pre-budget submissions today (Thursday) to the Province’s Select Standing Committee on Finance calling for increased long-term funding for RCMP services such as IHIT, Gang Enforcement, Emergency Response Team.

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