Saskatchewan’s chief RCMP officer is committed to a full review amid concerns about understaffing in the province’s rural detachments.
650 CKOM published internal emails last week showing detachment commanders reporting vacancy rates as much as five times higher than numbers officially released to the public back in September.
On Tuesday, RCMP assistant commissioner Curtis Zablocki addressed the difference in numbers during an interview with 650 CKOM host John Gormley.
He said the division’s human resources system only tracks long-term absences that affect an officer’s salary. Zablocki said each detachment’s commander has a clearer picture of who is actually working on any given day.
“For our detachments and our members on the front line, it’s what’s real. It’s the members who are not on the shift schedule, perhaps. (The members) that are not working alongside them, that are not attending calls or picking up the police radio to take calls,” he said.
Zablocki noted his review will look beyond front line officers.
Currently, the RCMP has 924 positions for rural Saskatchewan detachments; however, Zablocki said there are also more than 100 officers in specialized roles – such as drug enforcement, canine units, forensics and search-and-rescue.
“I need to be comfortable that our resources, including our specialized resources, are deployed appropriately and in the right places,” he said.
Zablocki said he’s open to ideas like increasing the division’s pool of relief officers, but there are challenges.
“It’s a unique type of duty. There needs to be a lot of flexibility from the members that take up that function. Members have families and lifestyles that might not be conducive to moving around the province week after week,” he said.
Zablocki expects the staffing review to wrap up sometime in early 2017.