‘Council is concerned’: Vernon mayor defends city’s response to crime complaints
Residents of Vernon have been raising concerns about crime for years now.
However, as council discussion about overnight security drag on, questions are being raised about whether city hall is doing enough.
Vernon’s mayor is defending the city’s approach, saying that significant action has already been taken to address crime issues.
Victor Cumming said Vernon has put significant money into security over the past couple years, an investment that has translated into more police officers and extra hours for bylaw officers.
“People say, ‘Gosh, nothing’s happening.’ Well actually, significant things have happened. Now the question is: do we do more?” said Cumming.
For months now, council has been discussing the possibility of hiring private security or extending bylaw officers’ hours, during the summer, to cover the overnight hours, when bylaw officers currently don’t work.
However, when the issue came up at council on Monday. Instead of voting to implement overnight security, council voted to seek additional information about the cost of private security.
So now, if approved, that extra overnight staffing won’t start until next summer.
The mayor admitted that the concern that the summer would be over before council makes a decision on extra summer security is “legitimate,” but defended city council’s approach, arguing councillors are trying to be responsible defenders of the public purse.
“These things take time, all these expenditures are in the tens of thousands of dollars,” Cumming said.
“If they are seeing caution, yes, councils do use caution before expending significant money.”
The latest delay in making a decision on overnight security comes after some councillors were unhappy with the cost information provided by city staff on Monday.
That staff report did not include information about the cost of overnight private security, only of additional bylaw hours.
However, other city officials, including city council members, defended the staff report, arguing that the city must follow official tendering processes when it contracts businesses to do work.
Cumming isn’t taking a position on whether private security or overnight bylaw shifts are the appropriate approach, but said he believes it is important that council has that discussion.
“This whole council is concerned about crime. We are also concerned about how can we spend money effectively to have an impact on crime prevention,” Cumming said.
In the meantime, police say they do conduct proactive patrols of hot spots, have implemented daily foot patrols and have a Prolific Offender Unit to identify repeat offenders.
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