of The Clarion
A small crowd at Monday night’s RCMP town hall meeting in Kindersley has shared big concerns with four commanding officers for the Kindersley detachment.
The town hall meeting was held on Nov. 5 at the Elks Hall in Kindersley. The meeting was attended by approximately 50 people who were able to hear from local RCMP members, share their concerns and ask questions over the course of the evening.
Staff Sergeant Ray Blais of the Kindersley RCMP welcomed people to the meeting, and introduced the officers on hand. Blais was joined at the table by corporals Travis Doering and Marc Durocher of the Kindersley detachment, a detachment that has offices in Kerrobert and Eston, and Staff Sergeant Pat Zunti from ‘F’ Division central command in Saskatoon. Blais said he was hoping for better attendance.
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“I was kind of hoping for a better turnout,” he said, recognizing that the detachment did what it could to promote the event and the meeting was open to anybody in the urban and rural areas surrounding Kindersley where the detachment’s members are policing daily.
He noted that it is difficult to play for a town hall, but the two main purposes of town hall meetings are to share priorities with the public and provide an opportunity for people to ask questions and provide feedback. He mentioned the upcoming town halls on Nov. 14 in Kerrobert and on Nov. 15 in Eston.
Blais said the detachment held town halls early in 2018, and there were three main areas of concern expressed by people at the meetings. He said he expected to hear the same or similar concerns at the meeting that night.
The three areas of focus at town halls were property crime such as theft, mischief, and break and enter, traffic offences such as speeding, distracted driving and impaired driving, and drug enforcement. He noted that the detachment has been focusing on all three areas, and he expects drug enforcement to become a bigger concern since cannabis has been legalized. Blais compared crime statistics from January to November in the past two years.
According to Blais, the detachment’s members have written a lot more tickets to motorists on highways in the area in 2018 than in 2017. The statistics for drug enforcement area down in 2018 from a year ago, but he said police realize there is more to do.
He noted that property crime has become a major concern for rural Saskatchewan, but there were fewer thefts in the first 10 months of 2018 than there were in 2017. However, he told the crowd there has been an increase in break and enter crimes. Blais said break and enter crimes are a concern that is front and centre for the Kindersley RCMP.
Staffing levels for the detachment were discussed at several points throughout the meeting. Blais said RCMP officials crunch crime statistics from the previous five years to determine how many members should be posted in a detachment area.
People heard that the Kindersley detachment area covers approximately 5,000 square miles, so it is a large area. The detachment does not have the resources to be proactive, so members have to be reactive, Blais explained.
Zunti said the number of members posted to a detachment depend on crime statistics and not on population. He said the frequency and severity of crime drives the staffing numbers for a detachment area. The officers stressed that it is important for people to report all crimes no matter how petty, and for various reasons.
“We need that call,” said Durocher, who pointed out that people should call 911 for emergencies including crimes in progress and people could also call 310-RCMP at any time of the day and night to talk to an actual RCMP dispatcher.
The officers told people it helps the police to know about all crime. Doering said a call for a suspicious person trespassing or looking over fences late at night could lead to another case being solved, so every bit of information is important.
The most boisterous people at the meeting were in a group of about a dozen people living in an area of town along Eighth St. West. The group highlighted a string of property crimes and concerns regarding a specific property suspected to be the home of a drug dealer.
After the group had presented specific details of the situation and several concerns including concerns regarding the safety of their children, Blais told the group’s members he would meet with them privately after the meeting. People also asked about their rights and options as property owners.