Port Alberni’s community policing office at Harbour Quay has been closed down. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Port Alberni’s community policing office at Harbour Quay has been closed down. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Port Alberni’s Community Policing office shuts down

Reopening unlikely to happen, says RCMP Insp. Hunter

Port Alberni’s Community Policing office at Harbour Quay has been shut down.

Port Alberni RCMP officer in charge Inspector Brian Hunter explained during a meeting of council on Monday, April 23 that a number of safety concerns have come up, and there is no expectation that the Community Policing office will reopen soon.

The Community Policing office at Harbour Quay consisted of an office open to the public between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. It was largely staffed by volunteers. During a committee of the whole meeting in December, the Bread of Life on Third Avenue offered the empty space beside their building for the RCMP to move this office and make it more visible.

READ: Port Alberni businesses, RCMP air frustrations over crime

READ: Alberni makes moving its community policing office a priority

But this is not a “true” community policing office, said Hunter on Monday. “Moving that community policing office would not have a significant, if any, impact on crime,” he said.

The detachment explored the possibility of opening an office on Third Avenue with some space for police officers to be there, as well as an interview room. But the cost for this would be between $500,000 and $700,000.

“That’s not a priority for me, or for council,” said Hunter.

In their site visits and investigations, RCMP management discovered that the current Harbour Quay office is not up to standards, either. A bulletproof barrier is needed to prevent the public from getting inside the building—as well as some other work—at a cost of $50,000.

The Community Policing office has now been shut down, and the reopening is not likely to occur without spending a significant amount of money. Because the office is a headquarters for Crime Stoppers and Speed Watch, there will still be administrative work happening in the building, but the storefront component is closed.

“Community Policing is not shutting down,” Hunter emphasized. “But the model’s going to change. We’re looking at getting out into the community in different ways.”

He cited the Citizens On Patrol (COPS), as well as the possibility of setting up informational booths around town.

READ: COPS stepping up foot patrols in Port Alberni’s hot spots

His ultimate dream, if money was not an issue, would be a community space for police officers, community policing volunteers and bylaw enforcement to work together in partnership.

“If you want to make a difference in your community, that’s what you need to do,” he said. “If you’re going to do it, do it right.”

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com