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Closed-circuit cameras valuable for crime fighting

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Kelowna RCMP Supt. Nick Romanchuk speaks at a Crime Stoppers luncheon on Wednesday.
RCMP Supt. Nick Romanchuk can testify first-hand as to the value and benefit of closed-circuit TV systems in public places.
But it is not up police to introduce the cameras to the city, he told a Crime Stoppers luncheon Wednesday.
Romanchuk was stationed in Trail several years ago and said the Kootenay community has numerous cameras in public places where they proved to be an invaluable investigative tool.
"We used those cameras to solve a homicide," said Romanchuk who took over the Kelowna detachment four months ago.
"And there were more mischief cases than we could shake a stick at."
Kelowna tried to install a camera in the downtown core several years ago, but was met with fierce opposition.
Kamloops is the latest community to venture into the controversial area after announcing a plan to install 25 cameras on city buses.
"The police can not implement it (installing cameras). The community has to initiate it," he said.
But Romanchuk pointed out people can scarcely walk down the street these days without being caught on camera.
"Every business now days has a video surveillance system of some sort," he said. "It's here to stay and I think we need to embrace it."
England has long used the CCTV systems as crime-fighting tools.
Romanchuk also spoke about his plans for the future of the Kelowna RCMP detachment, which he said is the third largest in Canada.
The main focus will be on leadership and some re-organization.
Romanchuk is bringing in a new inspector to oversee the plain-clothes division and he has plans for the other departments as well.
Romanchuk said Kelowna wants to be the best city in North America, "but to do that, we have to be the safest city in North America."
Recent statistics have not painted Kelowna in a very safe light, with one report placing Kelowna eighth in the nation for crime.
Romanchuk said several factors come in to play when those statistics are made, such as the massive influx of tourists every summer which is not taken in to account, so things are not as bad as they may look on paper.
Many of the crimes are also committed by a small group of prolific offenders, which Romanchuk plans to pay special attention to, noting many have already been taken off the streets.

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