Bylaw officers in Kamloops, B.C. are asking the city to give them self-defense weapons after at least five assaults against officers were reported in the past six months.
In some of those assaults, weapons were drawn against officers, and in one incident, an officer was struck with a skateboard, said Jon Wilson, community safety and enforcement manager with the City of Kamloops.
Having pepper spray and batons on hand would make officers feel safer while they're on duty, he said.
"It gives them a sense of safety, it gives them a sense that they at least have options if somebody were to assault them or take action against them," said Wilson.
Kamloops city council considered arming its bylaw officers in 2009 but held off on the decision.
However, parking and land-use bylaw officers in Vancouver don't carry pepper spray or batons, the City of Vancouver said in an emailed statement.
Not just parking tickets
Kamloops' bylaw officers are responsible for land use and animal bylaw enforcement, but they also do work that puts their safety at risk, said Wilson.
"Increasingly, we're out in the community dealing with public safety and community safety initiatives — whether it's doing foot patrols int the downtown core, whether it's being present with panhandlers and transients and other issues that are occurring," he said.
Sometimes bylaw officers go into homeless camps to ask people to move along, Wilson added.
"Not to say that everyone is a dangerous individual, but we do recognize that they [homeless campers] often, most often, are carrying weapons inside those camps, just as a form of protection," he said.
"Often those individuals have either mental health issues. They have addiction issues. They may also have issues with authority figures."
The city will work take this proposal to the RCMP and other stakeholder groups to determine whether or bylaw officers will be given "personal protection equipment," said Wilson.
There is no set date for the decision.
To listen to the full interview, click the link labelled: Kamloops revises possibility of giving bylaw officer. weapons.