Around-the-clock policing left small detachments 'stretched pretty thin': RCMP

A pilot project that saw RCMP detachments staffed around-the-clock has ended in Marystown and Clarenville.

24-hour policing experiment ends in Clarenville, Marystown but continues in Grand Falls-Windsor

The RCMP have ended their 24-hour policing trial in Clarenville and Marystown, and will return to an on-call system. (CBC)

A pilot project that saw RCMP detachments staffed around the clock has come to an end in Marystown and Clarenville, but continues in Grand Falls-Windsor, where the RCMP detachment is larger..

Superintendent Archie Thompson said his experience with the program suggests there's a benefit, but it's hard to manage in a small detachment.

"Clarenville, for example, we were constantly running short, we just didn't have enough members to run that, so as a consequence we'd have to bring in members to cover off the shift," he told CBC Radio's Central Morning Show.

Superintendent Archie Thompson oversees 17 police detachments for the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

Clarenville has 14 RCMP officers, while the Marystown detachment has 21 and the Grand Falls-Windsor detachment has 27.

You need your days off to recharge your batteries.- Superintendent Archie Thompson

"There's certainly an advantage if you have members working 24-hours a day, its just they are stretched pretty thin," he said.

"While they're compensated, after a while, members, just like anybody, you need your days off to recharge your batteries." 

Senior RCMP officers will compile a report on the experiment, which began in 2016.

Meantime, detachments in Marystown and Clarenville will go back to using an on-call system.

'Ready to go at a moment's notice'

While Thompson wouldn't say when detachments are unstaffed, he said police have a "immediate operational response" at all times.

"There's always going to be coverage 24 hours a day," he said. "What that means is we have members ready to go at a moment's notice."

He said there is an advantage to having detachments staffed 24/7, but people might still have to wait for officers to respond in detachments that cover large geographical areas if the officers are a long drive away.

The pilot project aimed to study the financial and operational impact of 24/7 shifts on the detachment and on it's employees, Thompson said.

The program continues in Grand Falls-Windsor, and Thompson said the force isn't ruling it out for other areas — but the numbers have to work.

"I can understand why any community would want 24-hour policing, it's just can we make that happen?" he said.

"There's some units that are just gonna be too small, you know, the Bell Islands, the Fogo Islands. You're never gonna have 24-hour policing in the smaller areas."

With files from the Central Morning Show