The Sooke RCMP detachment is close to offering 24/7 service but is still working towards filling staffing gaps.
Staff Sgt. Brett Sinden told district council last week that after a new officer is hired – planned for early 2022 – the Sooke RCMP detachment would be two officers away from offering 24-hour service. The goal is to have those hirings done by the time the five year financial plan is ended.
“As we grow, we need to get to the point where we’ve got that 24-hour coverage,” he said. “When we get to that point, that’ll allow officers to focus on specific areas on each watch, one on community policing, one on traffic and these different areas.”
Sinden says the detachment has been one full-time employee short all year due to struggling to find someone to fill the position, but that position is now filled.
Officers transferring to other stations has been a challenge, Sinden says. At other detachments, the federally imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate has led to the prospect of potential staffing shortfalls, but this hasn’t been a problem for the Sooke detachment, Sinden says.
“I don’t believe we’re out of the woods yet, and I anticipate some further pressures when it comes to protests and natural disaster throughout the province,” he said. “However, I will assure you we have the resources to serve the community.”
Despite the staff growth, Sinden says there won’t be a need for a change in the RCMP’s office space, as the plan is to move to more of a watch system instead of a response system.
“Quite frankly, from a detachment standpoint, my goal is to have officers on the road, writing files. There’s very little they can’t do in their cars that they can do in the building,” he added. “I’d love to have a shiny new building, but I’d love to have a shiny new policeman more.”
Mayor Maja Tait says building up capacity would help make recruiting easier in the future.
“Having additional members would enable rotations and shifts to change, and that would attract RCMP members who live in Sooke but work elsewhere to work in Sooke,” she said. “When you have family, to keep working long shifts and overtime is a big commitment. So we do have a big opportunity.”
Tait added that there is always a 24-hour response when calls go out.