‘Visceral reaction’ to crime impacting conversations about budget and RCMP reform

An pie chart showing the responses to the City Budget Survey question regarding policing budget.
Almost half of respondents in favour of increased police funding, though ambiguity around question remains. Image taken from City Budget Survey document.
Kate Partridge - CFUR - Prince GeorgeBC | 18-12-2020

RCMP contracts provides predictability for municipalities but there are limitations to the efficacy of this relationship, says former College of New Caledonia faculty Eric Tompkins.

An image taken of Eric Tompkins, taken in his home office.

Eric Tompkins retired this year, but has been teaching Criminology and Sociology at the College of New Caledonia since the 90's. Photo courtesy of Eric Tompkins.

The recently released findings of the Prince George City Budget Survey indicated that almost half (49%) of respondents favoured an increase in the amount of municipal funds allocated to policing services. However, Tompkins suggests that the RCMP is best suited to national policing, such as cyber crime, environmental crime, and tax evasion, and that other professions should assume more responsibility for local issues tied to mental health, substance use, and homelessness.

The survey did not allow respondents to specify what aspects of policing they view as requiring more funding, though Tompkins speculates that a recent uptick in shootings and a "visceral reaction to street crimes" may be the cause. He speaks from personal experience, referencing the drive-by shootings that happened on his street just a few weeks ago. While fear, Tompkins says, is an understandable and appropriate reaction, the assumption that more punitive measures will quell the violence may be unfounded.

Recently, Tompkins has seen a certain amount of political will to reform the role of the RCMP surface at City Hall, but questions whether the public interest and awareness is there yet to fund social workers and social services instead. The full City Budget Survey report can be found here.