The Melfort RCMP detachment had some strong community goals coming into 2020.
With COVID-19 interrupting the timing for many of these goals, they still remain major focuses for the detachment, said S/Sgt. Adare Guest.
Every year the detachment releases an annual policing plan and this year was no different with focuses on community relations, law enforcement and preventative policing.
Making those strong community connections have involved speaking at schools and town and city councils across the region, Guest said, and that has had to look differently with COVID restrictions in place.
With around 15 schools in the deteactment area, Guest said they will be working with the schools as restrictions are relaxed to get their officers in for visitations and participation in programming.
“We do have officers assigned to each of those schools, and there they serve as liaisons from the detachment here. They would stop in and do monthly visits at the school and then whenever there are requests for presentations or attendance at certain events.”
Reporting to councils in Melfort, surrounding towns, villages, RMs and First Nation communities is also a high priority for connecting with communities in the area, Guest said, but once again COVID has made that difficult but not impossible.
“Part of the process is just to make sure you got that regular contact, whether it's through email or, as they lift the restrictions, even stopping in at the RM and town offices just for a quick visit to say hello and ask questions.”
Part of that community relations portion will also be increasing media contact between the RCMP and local news organizations. Guest said they will be working to better address non-immediate concerns over media channels.
Impaired driving and distracted driving continue to be a major concern for the detachment, Guest said, and preventing those activities will continue to be a focus for the detachment. Education, access to information, and getting the word out about the dangers of these activities have been key components for a number of years, he said.
Other crime prevention aspects of the plan include curfew and compliance checks for those members of the community with a criminal record who are out of jail on conditions. Knowing that the RCMP is out keeping on eye on them does help in preventing these members from reoffending, Guest said.
“We’re hoping it'd be a deterrent from them doing any more criminal activity so that's the whole idea behind that. If you have to take enforcement action then you do, but it's always better if you can prevent them to enforce after the fact. We try to focus on that.”
Public education was going to be a major focus for the detachment but COVID-19 has put those plans on hold, Guest said. Town halls and preventative education workshops for helping people protect their homes and businesses. Guest hopes they will soon be able to get those running in the community but COVID has meant a delay in those events.
Taking this care to reduce crime in the community has always been the goal, Guest said, since they can enforce the law all they can, the ability to reduce crime will have a bigger impact on the community. And it is not easy.
“The only way lots of times you can get there is by trying different things and introducing different programs that you think might help, and trying to work with our stakeholder partners out there to identify things that are maybe going to have a positive impact.”
With the calendar rolling into October, Guest hopes there will be more opportunities to connect with members of the Melfort area to implement more of their policing plan. Guest said he is looking forward to working with the great groups and individuals in the community who are interested in making the community better.
Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist