Connecting with the communities has once again become a strong focus for Saskatchewan RCMP members in an ongoing effort towards public safety.
Around two dozen residents in the town of Bienfait turned out at Weldon School on Tuesday night as the local Estevan detachment hosted a town hall meeting to share information about their past year of enforcement and to personally address any possible safety concerns.
"The purpose of this meeting is to allow for true community engagement," expressed Sergeant (Sgt.) Jeff Clarke, Estevan RCMP detachment commander. "The RCMP wants to hear some feedback from the community and feedback from the public so that we can better direct our fiscal planning for next year."
Sgt. Clarke was joined by fellow Estevan officer Corporal Craig Park, as well as two officers based out of Regina in Staff Sergeant Devin Pugh and Inspector Ted Munro. Following a presentation by Sgt. Clarke on the local detachment, the four officers took time to answer any questions from those in attendance and clarify any misconceptions about the RCMP and the communities they serve.
"I think that it was excellent," stated Bienfait Mayor Paul Carroll, who was in the crowd for the meeting. "It was a great place to explain what they do for the people and I think there was a decent crowd here to hear it."
"They're looking for feedback and ways to enhance their service for our community, and right now in my opinion, their service is very good in Bienfait."
Those in attendance asked only a few questions to the officers publicly, and at the end of the presentation thanked the RCMP for hosting the meeting and doing a great job in serving the community.
The Estevan RCMP detachment involves five, recently down to four, full-time constables on staff covering six rural municipalities (RM's) including the RM's of Estevan, Benson, Browning, Cambria, Coalfields, and Cymri. However, the local detachment does receive additional staff support when needed from officers with the Combined Traffic Services division in the southeast.
The 2017 year of enforcement was another active one for members, however it would compare as average across the province according to Sgt. Clarke.
"The total calls for service for the Estevan RCMP detachment was 3,314, which does not include our provincial traffic enforcement," adds Clarke. "That's also broken down to 'Crimes Against Persons', 103 reported. 'Crimes Against Property', 283 reported, and 'Criminal Code Traffic', 99 reported."
The Estevan RCMP detachment also dedicated approximately 4% of their time in 2017 focused on drug enforcement. Despite only spending a relatively small amount of time on the issue, the local RCMP was effective in the ongoing battle.
"In 2017, we completed eight search warrants where we'd be looking for stolen property and drugs," stated Sgt. Clarke. "On that aspect, we seized over half a million dollars ($500,415) of drugs. For an area our size and a detachment our size, that's about average across the province."
Other highlights for the 2017 year for Sgt. Clarke involved the area of employee health and wellness. Last year, the Estevan RCMP detachment saw members take zero sick days, and zero man-hours lost due to workplace injury.
"Our members work hard. There's not a lot of us, but we do hard work and we make sure our communities are safe."