The small, unincorporated township of Bridesville is seething with anger and frustration. A significant uptick in police calls to attend the townsite prompted the RCMP to call a public meeting last week in the community hall. There have been 53 calls to Bridesville so far this year and at least six arrests but to date no charges have been laid.
“This is almost double the calls compared to the previous two years,” said Sgt. Kevin Schur, Osoyoos RCMP area commander. “We need some help. We need to work together to figure out what is going on and put this thing to bed.”
The mid-day public meeting on Nov. 4 brought out over 50 people. Osoyoos Detachment Cpl. Jay Bayda accompanied Schur to the meeting.
Schur opened the meeting by asking everyone to be respectful of others and setting down some ground rules. “This isn’t the forum to report incidents. If you want to do that, call the detachment.”
Schur gave an explanation of what the police do, what they are capable of doing and what they don’t do. He explained that with only six officers in the Osoyoos detachment, they have to prioritize calls. He said they don’t go to every call and sometimes cannot respond right away if backup officers are not available.
Schur said they too are frustrated with the high call volume, saying it takes officers away from responding to emergencies in other parts of the detachment.
One resident brought a lawyer to the meeting and someone else who videotaped the meeting later told the Times they were recording it on behalf of yet another resident who was not in attendance.
There were four or five people at the meeting who were quite vocal in repeatedly trying to discuss specific incidents and making accusations against others in the community.
Refusing to be drawn into the discussion, Schur explained that in B.C. police only gather evidence and it is the prosecutor’s office that makes the decision to lay charges and the courts that adjudicate.
The prosecutor will bring charges only when there is sufficient evidence, something that has often been lacking.
Schur also discussed how bail and release conditions work, surveillance cameras and why they are better than phone cams, and the difference between civil and criminal court.
But the RCMP mainly tried to stress the importance of evidence. “We need people to look out of their window and not turn away,” Schur said.Options put forward were to form a community watch group and to create a telephone list that would alert everyone in the community if something were happening so they might come to witness.