Merritt RCMP struggles with staffing

By on April 13, 2018
New Merritt Staff Sargent Lorne Wood. (Photo by Cpl. Jodi Shelkie/Kamloops RCMP)

 

by Dara Hill

Merritt’s RCMP detachment faces challenges recruiting senior staff.

Staff Sargent Lorne Wood said the detachment is down three members as of April, and will soon lose a fourth.

He reported the issue of releasability from other detachments is a root cause of the shortage.

“Managers aren’t releasing anybody right now, so you can’t get anybody with experience,” he said.

“Police may have a five-year commitment. You’ll have members that have been there for eight years, they want to go to say Kamloops or something — [managers] say ‘no, you’re not releasable because we’re too short,’” said Wood. “So basically everybody is short so nobody is releasable. The only people getting replaced for vacancies in nine out of 10 cases are recruits out of depot.”

Sgt. Norman Flemming echoed Wood’s concern.

“Releasability is tough. Everybody is holding on to their experienced members for as long as they possibly can,” he said.

RCMP Const. Tracy Dunsmore has been temporarily removed from her position as liaison for the Community Policing Office (CPO) to help cover the shortage at Merritt’s RCMP detachment.

“As of May 1 I will be back on the regular, general duty shift so I won’t be working out of the Community Policing Office,” she said.

However, she said the CPO will still be running while she’s away.

“It will just be the RCMP-related things that I do there and the programs that I have that will be on hold until we have some of our staffing figured out here,” she said.

Wood explained using cadets fresh out out of the depot division is the other solution they’ve adopted to fill the void.

“We can’t find a way around it,” Wood said.

Flemming confirmed they are looking at adding cadets right from the depot, which they have done in the past. He noted there are advantages and disadvantages to the approach.

“They’re eager, they’re ready to go and they’ve got a lot of energy, which is great, he said. “But we have to take an experienced member to take them on. You can’t count that one individual as an actual, fully-producing member, ready to go on their own.”

He went on to explain the new officers need to shadow an experienced member for two to six months before they are ready to work independently.

Flemming reported three to four members from the depot will fill ranks in Merritt by the end of the summer.

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