Maple Ridge looks to hire more community safety officers – Maple Ridge News

Maple Ridge City Council is considering expanding its Community Safety Officer (CSO) program to allow staffing 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

The cost will be around $ 300,000 for CSOs to work longer hours. They focus on the downtown and commercial district and tackle social issues like homelessness, addiction and mental illness.

Currently there are four CSOs and the team is led by Chad Cowles, the City Manager of the Community Social Security Initiative.

Cowles gave a presentation on the success of the initiative Tuesday morning at a city council workshop. Most of the elected officials voted in favor of the CSO program and the CSSI.

There was support to expand CSO coverage from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Current hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on days with morning and afternoon shifts. Currently, there is no community safety officer who works evenings on Mondays or Saturdays. There is no coverage on Sundays. There is also no cover for staff on vacation or absent due to illness.

City staff presented to council the option of adding either two new CSOs at a cost of $ 198,000 per year, or three CSOs for $ 292,000. In each option, one of the agents would be a senior CSO. Hiring three agents would result in 16/7 shifts and include coverage for vacation and sickness.

City staff said they would look to include the new officers in the 2021 budget using provincial grants and reserves, to keep the tax increase at 3.6%.

Com. Ryan Svendsen has spoken out in favor of increased staffing options and said the cost of not doing so exceeds the cost of new staff.

He also suggested that CSOs could be more visible to the public, with better branding on their vehicles.

Cowles explained that his officers work more closely with the police.

“The relationship between the by-law departments and the RCMP is growing stronger every day, and I thank Acting Commissioner Mehat for being here today,” said Cowles.

Insp. Wendy Mehat, who recently took over as the Acting Officer in Charge of the Ridge Meadows Detachment, told council the town was “really ahead of the game” with the CSSI and the support network that runs it. surrounded.

Cowles noted that there are joint patrols with CSOs and RCMP officers, which have been effective.

“These are foot patrols and the two teams will bring two priorities to the foot patrol to be addressed by a larger uniformed presence,” Cowles explained, adding that they are also cooperating on issues such as graffiti investigations. and the enforcement of COVID-19 health ordinances.

Com. Ahmed Yousef said he heard a lot of support for CSOs.

“The businesses in the city center are ecstatic about the reactivity, above all, of your team, underlines Yousef.

The Board heard that the CSSI strategy was almost fully mobilized, now 85 percent operational, with most outstanding issues requiring collaboration with senior government officials.

The CSSI action plan was approved by council in October 2019 and consists of 35 different initiatives, including the Community Safety Officer (CSO) program. Other elements of the CSSI that have been passed include a Safe Streets By-law, a Nuisance By-law, a Supportive Housing By-law and the Lock Out Crime Through Environment Design (LOCTED) program. The latter provides small businesses in the city center with security infrastructure.

Mayor Mike Morden is a huge fan of the plan, telling council “I want to franchise our CSSI, and no kidding, this thing should be best practice …”

“The Council’s CSSI works and is making a difference in our community,” said Morden. “It is supported by the provincial government and several municipalities are currently studying the evaluation of our solution, which is designed to effectively respond to public safety issues and provide people with access to the help they need. We are doing our part and look forward to working with our federal and provincial partners to implement some of the remaining elements of our plan.

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Susan W. Lloyd

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