RCMP Superintendent Shawna Baher chats with Patrick Vance and Dawn Tucker at Coffee With A Cop at Triumph Coffee in Vernon (Pete McIntyre/Beach Radio)
Several dozen people came out to the first ever Coffee with a Cop in Vernon.
The RCMP has been holding the casual gatherings at coffee shops around the North Okanagan to get input from residents, as explained by new Superintendent Shawna Baher.
“It’s great. We get to hear people, where they’re at, what’s important for them, what they would to see the police doing, and overall, just getting to know people. So I think it’s one of the big things, and it’s one of my promises as the Vernon North Okanagan detachment commander, is we need to be approachable,” Baher told Beach Radio News at Triumph Coffee in the downtown.
Baher says each area has unique concerns.
“So at the end of Coffee With A Cop, I have the ability to speak with the detachment commanders in those areas and talk about concerns, and ensure that those are addressed by the community.”
She says most of the Vernon concerns are with homelessness, addictions and discarded needles, but not in other communities.
“The outlying areas have specific concerns, things from speeding semis to property crime. The needle issue and homelessness issue is really paramount in Vernon (but) not in the other areas.”
Resident Patrick Vance from the Interior Freight bottle depot, came to the Vernon event, concerned about uneven police enforcement.
“One example that’s been given to me is, if I drive down the road and I’m on my phone, guaranteed I’m getting a thousand dollar fine, but people’s concern is that, they’ll go by Linear Park or other places, and they’ll see people conspicuously injecting drugs in their arm and it seems like nobody will do anything because it’s almost (like they’ve) given up. It’s like, what are they going to do if they get a fine? What are they going to do if they get a ticket? If they go to jail, they’re just going to be out in a day because resources are so strained,” says Vance.
Vance says confronting that problem on a daily basis, leads to anger, especially from business owners whose stores are impacted.
“So if that’s happening, it increases the level of the outcry from the business owners to do something.”
Vance likes the casual get-togethers with police.
“It’s a move towards restoring faith in a system where faith has been crumbling to a great degree.”
The final Coffee With A Cop session will be at Friesen’s in Coldstream Friday.
The detachment plans to hold more of the gatherings in six months.