Langford Mayor Stew Young wants to see five to 10 Mounties added to the West Shore RCMP detachment to combat a recent spike in crime. But his counterparts in Colwood and View Royal are wondering where the money will come from. “You’re going to see more police and multiple resources,” Young said Monday. “We got a report that said our crime was up 16 per cent — well, then maybe I better go hire 20 per cent more police officers.”
Crime in the West Shore is up 16 per cent for the first three months of 2015 compared to the same period last year. That includes several high-profile assaults on women, with the most recent incident on Friday night, when a man with a sharp weapon tried to steal a purse from a 19-year-old woman walking on Atkins Avenue near Crystalview Drive.
Langford is also grappling with news that a biker clubhouse believed to be linked to the Devil’s Army — described by B.C.’s anti-gang unit as a Hells Angels “puppet club” — has set up at 2775 Spencer Rd. West Shore RCMP detachment commander Insp. Larry Chomyn is expected to brief the mayors on the RCMP’s plan to deal with any illegal activity stemming from the clubhouse, across the street from Spencer Middle School. “I’m getting a lot of complaints from the community — a lot,” Young said. “This is the most I’ve had in a long time for the fact that a biker gang [is there].”
But Young said the biker club is a secondary concern, compared to the attacks on women, which remain unsolved. “We’re concerned about these type of events — they’re preying on the helpless in our community and I will be throwing [in] as many resources as I can,” Young said, adding that all municipalities policed by West Shore RCMP would have to help pay for new officers.
Chomyn is set to meet with Young, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton and View Royal Mayor David Screech today to talk about the detachment’s resources.
Both Hamilton and Screech said there have only been preliminary talks about adding new officers, and certainly no firm numbers. “I think Stew is speaking out of turn, quite frankly,” Screech said. “We haven’t even met with the RCMP yet. They have asked to meet with us and we know there will be a request for additional manpower ... but it’s all a bit early to be stating anything definitive.”
Hamilton and Screech said their councils have already decided on their budgets for the year ahead. “So where does funding come from?” Hamilton asked.
Each new police officer costs about $120,000 to $130,000 a year.
West Shore RCMP comprises 63 officers and 19 civilian staff who serve 71,000 residents in Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchosin and the Highlands, as well as the Songhees First Nation and Esquimalt First Nation.
The addition of five to 10 officers would be the largest staffing increase West Shore RCMP has seen, Young said.
Langford had the highest number of calls for service relative to its population size, according to West Shore RCMP’s annual report. There were 30.6 files per 100 people in Langford, followed by View Royal’s 24.0 per 100 and Colwood’s 18.9 per 100.
Overall, crime in the West Shore dropped between 2004 and 2013, a trend seen across B.C.
West Shore RCMP spokesman Const. Alex Berube said he cannot comment on whether Chomyn intends to ask for more police resources. “It’s simply too premature.”
— with files from Amy Smart