Members of the Port Alberni RCMP are taking precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also maintaining core policing services for the Alberni Valley.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic we are constantly reassessing our delivery methods and addressing all necessary precautions for both the public and for our frontline police officers,” explained Port Alberni RCMP Cpl. Amelia Hayden, Media Relations Officer. “Calls are being prioritized and assessed if personal attendance is required.”
Members of the public can expect to answer a few extra questions after calling 9-1-1 or the police non-emergency line—namely, questions about whether you or anyone in your household or at the scene has travelled out of the country or is displaying symptoms.
“For responding officers, as well as for the public, we need the public to be honest and accurate in responding to these questions,” said Hayden. “That doesn’t mean we won’t respond if you’re sick. It’s all about preparation for us and keeping us and the public safe. Regardless of the answer, police service will be provided.”
How the police will respond varies depending on the call for service. Some matters can be addressed over the phone instead of through face-to-face meetings. In other instances, an officer might respond to a call wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as protective gloves, face masks and eye protection.
An officer wearing PPE doesn’t necessarily mean that they are responding to a call involving COVID-19, Hayden explained. The officers are simply doing what they can to limit potential exposure, keeping themselves and the public safe.
“We have to prioritize and assess each call,” Hayden said. “Some stuff we’re able to deal with over the phone. The safety of the community is our priority, and that will be maintained.”
Core policing services have not changed, including traffic laws. However, front counter and walk-in services have been halted at the detachment, and all Community Policing volunteer services have been cancelled until further notice.
“When it is deemed safe to do so, those services will start up again,” explained Hayden.
In terms of calls for service, Hayden said that the Port Alberni RCMP haven’t seen much of a change since the COVID-19 pandemic struck Vancouver Island back in March.
“[The calls] have remained steady with past numbers,” she said. “That’s a positive. We’re not really seeing a change in calls for service since COVID-19 began.”
In the meantime, the Port Alberni RCMP is upping its online presence in order to interact with the public. A Facebook page has been launched at www.facebook.com/portalbernircmp which will allow the public to private message the RCMP for informational purposes. The Facebook page has been posting general alerts, crimes of the week and general safety information.
The page will not accept reports of crimes or Crime Stoppers tips and is not monitored 24/7.
Members of the public are instead encouraged to report incidents that don’t require police attendance or follow-up using a new online reporting tool at http://portalberni.bc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca. The process takes less than 15 minutes, explained Hayden, and people can report at any time that is convenient.
“That’s something regardless of COVID-19 that we would encourage people to use,” said Hayden.
The Port Alberni RCMP can be contacted at 250-723-2424.