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Dealing with the shortage of RCMP officers (from Council notes)

posted Aug 4, 2015, 8:58 AM by Kathy Carr
by Gloria Mott

Carberry and North Cypress-Langford residents may find that RCMP officers are not as visible this summer, thanks to a shortage of staff members in the Blue Hills Detachment. A joint council meeting was held on Monday evening, July 27, with Cpl. Jarrid St. Pierre as the first delegation. Mayor Stuart Olmstead chaired.
St. Pierre noted that the corporals at each of the three communities: Carberry, Souris and Brandon have been taking turns filling in for Sgt. Mike Zens, who has moved up to overseeing a larger area. He was happy to report that Sgt. Clint Wickender has been assigned to Blue Hills Detachment. He will oversee the three offices, as well as liaise between municipalities, and will be located in Brandon.
While there was a chance that some of the Traffic Services personnel could locate here, there are four members (too many for this office) so they’re temporarily in Minnedosa, but eventually will be located in Brandon. 
The CN Police has moved to the Carberry office. He has full policing powers, plus provincial policing powers, but his main job is anything in relation to CN. He is presently working #1 highway.
Currently there is one vacant position, but two officers are leaving, and another considering coming. He regrets losing Garth Haubrick, who was assigned to Brandon, but worked out of the Carberry office and retired this June. Council echoed his regrets as he was visible within the community and a well known local. There is no indication as to when open positions would be filled, although one experienced officer is slated to come to Carberry.
St. Pierre highlighted some of the problems that have influenced the difficulty with filling positions. The RCMP used to be at the top of the payscale, but have moved down to 65th position in policing.  Councils discussed issues concerning remote areas where policing is difficult, as well as the attractiveness of taking more urban positions where pay was perhaps better and stability of family life as well.  
Becoming an RCMP officer was once considered a professional occupation, but in many ways it is now becoming a “job”.
The policing stats for the first six months of 2015 were compared to the stats for the same period in 2014 in Carberry and North Cypress-Langford. Oddly enough, the crimes, particularly against persons have decreased in both municipalities. St. Pierre found it somewhat baffling, especially in the rural, where there is the addition of Langford to the stats.
None of the trends in either set of stats was alarming and for the most part was reasonably similar. Mischief (anything that obstructs the lawful enjoyment of your own property) was up. The number of calls was dramatically reduced, in both the town and the rural by over 100. This could be an indication of less crime, or as one council member put it, that maybe people aren’t bothering because they feel there will not be any action taken.
St. Pierre did not disagree. But he urged the public to report incidents anyway. Even if no action is taken, it shows up on the stats, and if less crimes are cleared, it is an indication that more help is needed.
In regards to municipal by-law enforcement, St. Pierre noted that because of the shortage of men, he is unwilling to devote time to more ‘trivial’ matters. They do take action on such things as noisy parties, because there is the potential for escalation. Council had enlisted his aid with a by-law matter, and he had expressed reluctance to do so.
Mayor Olmstead reminded him that the Town of Carberry taxpayers fund a portion of policing costs, and as such, there comes a time to “do your job.” He stated that the town rarely passes matters onto the RCMP, unless all their avenues have been exhausted. 
St. Pierre did suggest that they can pursue taking these matters to court (expensive), or having a by-law enforcement officer. Olmstead explained the difficulties with the latter is that the province has passed legislation regarding that, but have not enacted into law. The town has looked at partnering with other communities and sharing such an officer, which would be more affordable, but may be some time in coming.
Olmstead stated that council will “hold your feet to the fire” on this one issue, and the corporal noted that they should realize that if they spend time on municipal issues, “other things will have to come off the plate.” He noted that local officers are putting “copious amounts of overtime already.
On other matters, he gave a briefing about the “Community Mobilization” program that puts “people at risk” cases before a number of supportive agencies (police, schools, health services, child and family services etc.) at once. This is modelled after a Prince Albert, Saskatchewan initiative, taken from Glasgow, Scotland. 
By discussing cases with the experts in the field, as they meet twice per week, they have been able to take some steps to alleviate the causes of criminal behaviour. In Prince Albert, crimes against persons have dropped by 31%. While this action here is mainly centered around Brandon, he hoped that it would include the communities around it as well. Currently it is not funded well (self-financed) and as the successes become known, it is hoped that funding will be put in place.