Who is a Watch Support Officer?
2023-03-22 10:43 PDT
One of the newest positions created by the City of Kelowna to help address a need for further support to Kelowna frontline RCMP members are the Watch Support Officers (WSO).
The primary goal of the WSO is to support the heavy workload of RCMP Officers, as they are qualified to handle several issues that do not necessarily require a frontline member response. A WSO is eligible to receive calls from the public, assess the call and then determine an appropriate action. They can also retrieve and process exhibits, video surveillance, manage curfew checks and DNA. The program has provided relief to frontline Officers to focus their efforts in a more proactive way.
"The WSO's have been become an integral component of our detachment’s frontline policing duties, as they have allowed our Officers more time to focus on priorities to such as community safety initiatives, property crime and proactive enforcement, says Watch Commander Brad Swecera.
The WSO are trained to take calls that are less serious in nature when danger to a person is not imminent. The Kelowna Detachment receives several calls centered around lost property, particularly in the summer months when tourists are vacationing. When calls of this nature are received and frontline officers are actively engaged in other priority calls, the WSO works with the Patrol Supervisors to determine if additional police action is required. The early engagement of the WSO’s allow for more timely response to these types of files and facilitates collaboration and strategic deployment of resources to ensure the best support to the entire community.
The WSO program has been prioritizing the handling and collection of Closed-Circuit TV footage that supports the gathering of evidence and identification of suspects. They can seize, or receive the footage, view it and assist with identification of the suspects within the video. In turn the WSO’s are watching an incredible amount of video footage and by doing so have been able to identify suspects and their criminal trends and/or similarities. The efficiency of this team has aided in the identification of repeat offenders and groups of individuals working together to commit property crimes.
A total of four WSOs work within the Kelowna Detachment, carrying a Peace Officer status. They are hired by the City of Kelowna with each Watch assigned a WSO to work alongside the General Duty Officers and work closely with the Watch Commanders.
As the region continues to grow, higher demand will be placed on these talented and skilled WSO’s of the Kelowna Regional Detachment. Their experience and support is invaluable and instrumental in providing a policing service the Kelowna RCMP can be proud of.
Ryan SencarKelowna RCMP
1190 Richter St, Kelowna, British Columbia V1Y 6V7
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