"A budget cut we can simply not afford," says spouse of an RCMP officer

A spouse of an RCMP officer is speaking out against the proposed reduction in DC police nominations from 25 to 22.

Carina Wingerak, speaking on behalf of a number of spouses, spoke to Council at the regular meeting before also speaking at the budget meeting. She asked Council to reconsider the cut.

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“We all agree this is a budget cut we can simply not afford,” she said.

Cuts would have a negative effect on officers health.

“When you have one trauma after the other, you are unable to de-stress, debrief, and appropriately recuperate before going back into the field,” she explained.

“People who deal with trauma day in and day out don’t just get better at it, it is something you don’t just get used to. You don’t get used to seeing people die, you don’t get used to seeing children getting hurt, you don’t get used to seeing the bad parts of humanity. You just get better at covering it up.

“If we give these RCMP officers enough time to recuperate by keeping these positions and having a full force, we are actually giving our force a better leg up into having a healthier lifestyle, which leads to a higher morale, which leads to a safer community.”

The key, she said, is a fully staffed detachment.

“If we keep them at the minimum, the community will be receiving minimal service.

“We need to respect and protect the people who deal with these things. We need to care for these people, we need to give them the time and the ability to rest to care for themselves,” she continued. “If we don’t give them the ability to rest, recuperate, and spend time together with their family, they’re at higher risk for burnout, PTSD, and other psychological disorders.”

She credited Staff Sergeant Damon Werrell for filling the positions that have long been vacant.

“[It] has made a significant improvement on detachment morale. And to take away these positions would be, in my opinion, a slap in the face to the commander, the members, and the community,” she said. “With minimal resources, these members suit up daily and put their lives at risk for the community. They keep their heads held high and do the best they can.

“Dawson Creek used to be a posting where members wanted to stay, and now it has gained a negative reputation due to being short staffed.”

She wasn’t the only spouse to speak at the public budget meeting.

Joan, another spouse of an RCMP member, spoke to the cuts, noting it was her husband’s third posting. A posting in Nunavut earned him a “golden ticket" — she says, essentially allowed him to choose where he wanted to be posted.

“We as a family chose Dawson Creek to build a family,” she said.

“As a family now, if you cut those three members, and he has to work longer hours, you can believe me as a wife, I am going to say I want the next place.

“If you reduce those people, you’re not going to get members wanting to come here.”

Prior to the meeting, Council had noted that a final decision wouldn’t be made until after public consultation, which has now taken place.

City of Dawson Creek CAO Duncan Redfearn said staff will be requesting final decisions from Council at the Wednesday, March 20 special budget meeting at 1 pm.

reporter@dcdn.ca

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