New Penticton Community Safety Officers to focus on social issues – Penticton Western News
There will be a new approach to settlement services and a more visible presence when four new Community Safety Officers arrive in Penticton.
“Community Safety Officers (CSOs) will focus on social issues, such as begging, camping, safety and cleanliness,” said Tina Mercier, head of municipal services.
City Council approved the hiring of six new Bylaws Officers for 2022: 4 CSOs, another Bylaws Officer and a Bylaws Office Administrator.
“With these new positions, we will have a total of eight community safety officers, so we will be able to do our checks in the morning and then in the evening, also in alleys and hard-to-reach areas,” Mercier said.
Since posting the new positions in December, Mercier has received hundreds of applications which it is currently reviewing.
Once the new officers are hired, bylaws departments in the city will be seven days a week with hours from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“It’s going to be a game changer. The community will notice a difference and we will have a much bigger presence in the community and be more visible on the streets.
Community Safety Officers will support businesses and individuals experiencing homelessness, mental health and addictions. This involves doing morning wellness checks with those sleeping in business alcoves or doorways. CSOs will push them forward so businesses can open, but not before they know how they are doing and see if they need to be connected to services, she said.
CSOs will be busiest between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. doing these wellness checks.
“We get to know people and try to connect them with services like Interior Health or make sure they’re on the BC Housing waiting list. Sometimes we make sure they are medically ok, some need medication, and we can call Interior Health for help,” Mercier said.
But help isn’t always there, which can take up a lot of officers’ time, Mercier added.
Although CSOs have the same authority as regulators, their purpose is different.
By-law officers deal with property and parking issues and by-law violations.
Some residents wondered when to call the regulations and when to call the police.
If there is an immediate threat to security, someone is trespassing, stealing, using drugs outdoors, or has mental health issues, call the police. If someone damages public property, parking or barking dogs and other property issues you would call settlements.
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