NEARLY HALF OF THIS WEEK?S RCMP GRADS COME TO B.C.

VICTORIA – The number of new RCMP officers coming to B.C. is growing as 12 of this week?s 30 RCMP graduates are heading to the province to begin their careers, Solicitor General John van Dongen said after he paid a visit to Regina for the graduating exercises of the latest class of recruits.

?I was very proud to have gone to Regina to welcome these new recruits as they head off to the various towns and cities throughout our province,? said van Dongen. ?The constables who are coming to B.C. have been well-trained and that will help us in our battle against the ever-changing face of crime.?

The graduates will be arriving within weeks at their new homes in Surrey, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Richmond, Tumbler Ridge, Revelstoke, Mackenzie, Powell River, Port Alberni and the Lisims-Nass Valley.

There are about 6,000 RCMP officers working in B.C. Recruits attend an extensive 24-week training schedule at the RCMP headquarters in Regina.

This includes lifelike scenario training, problem-solving exercises, and community interaction. They are also required to ensure continuous assessment and improvement of work practices. Fifty-eight troops will be graduating this year.

On Monday, the public safety minister attended a number of activities including the swearing-in for Troop #21, the Sergeant Major?s Parade, and the Drill Display and Badge Presentation. He also gave the address to the graduates and their families at the evening ceremony.

?We are grateful that the Solicitor General took time out of his busy schedule to visit the Academy and to participate in the graduation ceremonies of a troop of new police officers,? said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Peter German. ?It was a memorable event and his support is appreciated by all employees of the force.?

Surrey mayor Dianne Watts joined the Solicitor General in Regina.

?I had the opportunity to meet the new recruits who are coming to the province, and to Surrey,? Watts said. ?They will be a most welcome addition to the Crime Reduction Strategy underway in my community that

is helping to prevent and deter crime.?

The new RCMP officers will have a number of tools to assist them in

their duties in B.C. This includes PRIME – leading edge technology that

gives police real-time information on criminals no matter where they are

in the province; auto license plate recognition, which reads plate

numbers and checks them against a police database; Air One, B.C.?s

dedicated traffic safety helicopter; and the successful bait car

program.

The Province has also given police the resources they need to do their

jobs effectively, including funding 400 more RCMP positions since 2003;

in addition, since 2004, when the government began returning 100 per

cent of traffic fine revenues to municipalities, $210 million in traffic

fine revenue has been returned to municipalities to be used towards

public safety.

British Columbia also has more integrated units and joint operations per

capita than anywhere in Canada. The units investigate homicides, target

criminal organizations and gangs and help reduce auto theft and improve

road safety.