Shuswap resident unimpressed with RCMP response

Former RCMP officer put-off by 911 experience in Salmon Arm.

A Shuswap man holds local police accountable for letting a suspected drunk driver get away.

Sheldon Sherman, a retired RCMP officer, says on the morning of Aug. 15, he and his wife were driving westbound on the Trans-Canada Highway near Canoe when they saw a small silver sedan in front of them weaving in the lane. As Sherman followed the vehicle into Salmon Arm, he continued to witness ongoing erratic and dangerous driving from the silver vehicle.

The Shermans began making calls to 911, but were initially unable to get through.

“(The silver car) finally turned off the highway at the Super Save Gas station, hitting the cement curbing, stopping, then trying to turn again, hitting the curbing again, and then pulling up to the pumps,” said Sheldon.

At that point the Shermans finally got through to 911.

Sheldon says he told the operator about a possible impaired driver, and he was transferred through to Salmon Arm RCMP detachment.

“I spoke to someone, I’m assuming a member, and gave them the story,” said Sheldon. “I even asked if they wanted me to stay there with the vehicle and keep an eye on it… The response I got: No, that’s fine, you can carry on if you want, we don’t have anyone available right now.

“I told the person that this driver was going to kill someone if the police didn’t do something. Again, they said they had no one available, and the call was concluded.”

Unbeknownst to Sherman, police did respond to his call, but the suspected vehicle had already moved on.

“We, in fact, sent two cars to that file. Unfortunately, the members didn’t get back to him by phone and tell him that,” said Salmon Arm RCMP Staff Sgt. Scott West in a Sept. 25 interview, after contacting Sherman to inform him of the same.

“Had he called us, we probably would have spoken with him, but the members that were involved should have given him a call back saying, ‘hey listen, we couldn’t find the car or whatever the case may be.’ And the part that I’m looking into now is, did they actually call them back and fail to document it. He says they didn’t, so I’m going to take that at face value and I’ll remind my members to call their complainants back.”

Regarding the Shermans being told no one was available, West could only speculate why that might have occurred, noting he wasn’t going to tie up someone to go over transcript tapes of the call.

“At this time, Mr. Sherman is pleased to know someone did attend to it,” said West.

Sheldon, however, is still disappointed with what he says was a lack of communication. He is also unimpressed with being told to continue on, as opposed to keeping an eye on the suspect, as he said would have happened when he was in the force.

“When we had similar complaints… you’d ask the complainant would you mind just staying there. Don’t confront them. Just stay off on the sideline there, keep an eye on the vehicle. We’re going to try and get somebody out…,’” said Sheldon, explaining this helps to provide a solid case for police in proving who was behind the wheel at the time of the offence.

“I know Scott said we don’t like people to be there because it could get confrontational, there could be an assault… like I said, I know how the court thing works, the continuity, I’m there, I’ve got the vehicle and the driver in my vision, so even if the member showed up 15 minutes later, it doesn’t matter, I still have continuity of the vehicle and the suspect, and for court, there’s no question of who was driving the vehicle.”

(Editor’s note: the registered owner of the vehicle has since been charged.)