Opposition leader says changes to RCMP auxiliary program not for the better

Dave Stewart
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JAMIE FOX

Opposition Leader Jamie Fox is concerned that the RCMP in P.E.I. is going to be short-staffed and in need of funding.

Fox is reacting to recent news that the national police force is ending ridealongs and weapons familiarization for its auxiliary constables following the deadly shootings in Ottawa in 2014 and at a casino in Alberta last year.

"These guys provide a local knowledge to officers who are coming into an area and that information can never be underestimated,'' said Fox, a former police officer.

"I'm wondering what the economical cost this is going to have on the province.''

The P.E.I. government and federal government reached an agreement in 2012 to renew the RCMP policing contract for another 20 years.

Fox said auxiliary officers have often helped with traffic control at events such as the Cavendish Beach Music Festival.

SEE  CORRECTION

Cpl. Scott Stevenson, media relations officer with the RCMP in P.E.I., wasn't available for comment, but his office did relay some information.

According to the office, auxiliary members in P.E.I. have not participated in ridealongs or duties such as traffic control for more than a year due to the review of the program.

Fox said it still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. There is no word yet on exactly what duties auxiliary members will be tasked with but Stevenson told The Guardian recently that it would likely involve community policing, such as speaking at schools.

"These auxiliary (officers) act as a service which cannot be underestimated. They would be used, in some instances, to secure scenes or guard a scene until the fire marshal got there . . . so you're not tying up a regular member. It's concerning in that what is going to be the economical impact on the RCMP in the province to do their job effectively. Are they going to need more of a financial contribution to increase members on the road.''

A spokeswoman in Stevenson's office said the commanding officer will be meeting with auxiliary members to provide one-on-one explanation of where the auxiliary program is right now and where things are going.

Organizations: RCMP

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