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Posted: July 30, 2015

DOI bylaw officer getting workout

By Chris Conway/e-KNOW

District of Invermere (DOI) council received the June bylaw report from Bylaw Officer Mark Topliff at the July 14 council meeting.

The report stated that 32 parking warning tickets were issued. Patrols were conducted downtown, at the skate park and Westside Park. Topliff called the RCMP for drunks on the beach. The report also noted that “beach parking is getting to a point where something has to be done” and “clean up transfer station daily. Getting worse.”

Topliff’s report also included 10 written complaints that he had responded to and resolved.

Coun. Paul Denchuk
Coun. Paul Denchuk

During discussion, Coun. Paul Denchuk raised a concern about RCMP response to an incident involving the bylaw officer at Kinsmen Beach.

“I ran into him (Bylaw Officer Mark Topliff) down at the beach,” said Denchuk.  “I think it was on Canada Day. He had to remove three drunken beach-goers. They couldn’t stand up. The interesting part was that the RCMP would not go down; they wouldn’t leave their car and wouldn’t go down to the beach to help pick them up. He had to get them from the beach to the police car.”

“He’s way outside his authority to be doing that too,” said Coun. Greg Anderson.

“I know,” replied Denchuk. “I’m just curious as to why the RCMP wouldn’t do that. I think it’s something that we should look into.”

“That’s maybe a topic for Marko when he comes in,” said Anderson, referring to Staff Sergeant Marko Shehovac of the Columbia Valley RCMP Detachment and an upcoming council briefing.

“Absolutely,” agreed Denchuk. “Because that doesn’t seem fair and it’s putting our bylaw officer in jeopardy.”

Chief administrative officer Chris Prosser told council that this type of incident is a common occurrence down at Kinsmen Beach. “In the past the RCMP have typically always responded, and have left their vehicles and either cuffed the individual and dragged him back or coerced him back to the vehicle and then taken him away,” said Prosser. “So that I find odd that they wouldn’t do it.”

“Well I ran into him at the concession stand and he was rehydrating,” said Denchuk.  “It looked like he had a pretty good workout.”

Following that council discussion, e-KNOW contacted S/Sgt. Shehovac for the RCMP’s version of events.

After reviewing files from that day and speaking with Bylaw Officer Topliff, Shehovac said police were not called to respond and the bylaw officer did not get them from the beach to the police car.

S/Sgt. Marko Shehovac
S/Sgt. Marko Shehovac

“Mark was doing his foot patrol and came across a male who was intoxicated. He requested the male to depart the area and was co-operating and walking to a vehicle.  The intoxicated male had two other intoxicated friends approach and at that time challenged Mark Topliff.  Brave in numbers,” Shehovac said.

“Around this time a police car was doing patrols was in the area. The officer must have been focussed on something else given the large crowd and number of events going on.  It is clear that the officer did not see a concern.  At that time I would assume that Mark is having a verbal confrontation. Mark would not have seen the police vehicle as he would have waved us over.  The public didn’t seem to have a concern or someone would have brought the confrontation to the attention of the police,” he continued.

“From what Mark advises he was near or on the road.  The police car would have driven by and not seen what was going on behind him. The males obviously saw the police as they made the comment to Mark that ‘your back up just drove by quickly departed.’

“Mark was obviously frustrated by this thinking the police should have seen the problem and no doubt vented to Denchuk. Mark, however, states that he realizes that the timing of the event and all that was going on, he can see how the police may not have realized there was a problem.

“At no time did he advise Denchuk or mayor and council that the police were involved and refused to get out of the car. Or refused to go down to the beach,” the S/Sgt. said, adding, “It is unfortunate of the timing of events. I informed Mark that he should not confront intoxicated persons and simply call us. Mark is doing a great job and when he sees liquor being consumed he will ask the people to pour it out and they do. In this case recognizing the males were highly intoxicated he should have contacted us and not intervened,” he said.

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