A new report recommends against arming Kamloops bylaw officers with pepper spray and batons, and says the department should be re-branded to present a friendlier, more community-focused department.

Some officers had asked the city for self-defense weapons last year after at least five assaults against officers were reported in late 2015 and early 2016.

David Duckworth, the city's director of corporate services and community safety, says the city hired a consultant to do a review of the bylaw enforcement division.

"It was a review to try and identify what are priorities moving forward, what the community thinks, and what we could do differently in the future to be more cost effective and efficient," he said.

The report recommends against arming staff with defensive tools.

"Instead, [the report recommends] staff assess the situation before they get into the situation for all safety aspects. If it gets to a certain point, disengage as opposed to staying in the middle of conflict. If they need to, they can always call backup or the RCMP," Duckworth said.

Duckworth said about half the officers were in favour of the tools, but bylaw officers are not "quasi-RCMP" and weapons could lead to bylaw officers getting hurt themselves.

"There's no question the tools would be of comfort. But it could also lead to situations that aren't good for the employee, the city and the public," he said.

He says now there is clear instruction for officers not to get involved in conflict situations and walk away if things escalate.

Other recommendations

The report has a number of other recommendations. 

For one, it recommends officers work on a 12-hour schedule so there are more officers working during peak hours. 

In addition, officers should seek compliance and education and not issue tickets right away (with the exception of parking tickets).

The report also recommends removing the word "enforcement" from the department title (it's currently called the Kamloops Bylaw Enforcement Division). It would be re-branded as the "Bylaw Services Division."

Overall, Duckworth says, the push is for a friendlier, more community oriented service.

"It's all about public education and working with our community partners to make our community a safer, friendlier place to live," he said.

Duckworth presents the report at a city council workshop today.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops