Prince Albert RCMP received an overwhelming turnout at a town hall meeting held at the Spruce Home Activity Centre on Nov. 7.
The meeting was held to inform the public of various ongoing police initiatives, and to allow the general public to voice their concerns, in particular rural crime.
Sgt. Lyle Korczak said he believes town hall meetings serve an important purpose to maintain discussion between the RCMP and the public, and to encourage people to become involved in rural crime watch programs.
“Basically this is our way of engaging the public,” Korczak said. “We have a number of topics but the main one is rural crime … basically the main thing we want to get out is that sharing information is key. We want people to get involved in rural crime watches and call in complaints, or calling in suspicious activity.”
Roughly 75 people were in attendance of the event, with people attending from Prince Albert and all surrounding communities.
Although several topics were discussed, such as victim services, additional highway patrol units being added to the province, and the addition of crime reduction units to the province, the main focus of the evening was on rural crime.
The RCMP released several statistics during the meeting, assuring members of the public that although there has been a spike in crime in recent months, year-to-date crime stats were down from previous years.
The RCMP noted from 2015 to 2016 break and enters in the area were up 16 per cent, and year-to-date from January of 2017 to Oct. 31, 2018 break and enters were down 21 per cent.
Vehicle thefts in 2016 to 2017 saw a 25 per cent increase, while 2017 to Oct. 31, 2018 there was a 30 per cent decrease. There was also a year-to-date decrease of 14 per cent for charges of theft under $5,000.
The RCMP encouraged everyone in attendance of the town hall to become involved in rural crime watch groups, such as the group lead by Elaine McMillan, president of the Lake Country crime watch group.
“We’ve been going for about a year now. We were organized last October and since then it’s taken off like wildfire,” McMillan said. “We push knowing your neighbours at every meeting. These thieves don’t recognize borders; they travel from one area to another so we all have to be vigilant about watching and reporting, writing it down, keeping incident reports handy, reporting anything suspicious to the RCMP and letting your neighbours know.”
Those interested in becoming a part of the Lake Country crime watch group can contact McMillan at 306-961-2535, or attend a meeting, held every third Thursday of the month at the Christopher Lake Legion hall.
“We need more patrollers, we need more people on alert, and we need to help our local law enforcement,” McMillan said. “Everyone will have a happier and safer neighbourhood to live in.”
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