BONNYVILLE - Communication is a two-way street, which is why the Bonnyville and Cold Lake RCMP are joining forces with the MD of Bonnyville to host a rural crime town hall.
Bonnyville RCMP S/Sgt. Sarah Parke said the Jan. 15 event is being held to discuss issues relating to local policing and crime, while gathering feedback and insight from rural residents.
“Rural crime is constantly on the radar of all Albertans, whether they live in a town, city, or out in the country,” she stated.
Joining Parke on the panel are Cold Lake RCMP S/Sgt. Scott Buchanan, MD Reeve Greg Sawchuk, and general manager of the MD's public safety department Chris Garner.
Buchanan said it's vital these groups pull together both on and off duty.
“We’re working side-by-side on the road, so we should be working side-by-side in the community programs."
MD Reeve Greg Sawchuk said, "I think it's important for citizens to know in regards to this being only one part of the whole crime problem. I think it's important they find out that the RCMP and the MD have been working together to try and fight crime and our upcoming initiatives. We just want another chance to express those to the public."
Over the course of the evening, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Ardmore Hall, the panel will provide crime statistics relevant to the MD, while discussing police activity within the area.
“Another big part of it, in my opinion, is to give the public an opportunity to ask the police questions,” Buchanan noted, adding the panel will also touch on police limitations, authorities, and mandates.
"It’s a good opportunity for the public to understand what the police are faced with, at the same time, it’s a chance for us as police leaders to hear from the community about what they think is important to focus police energy on,” he continued.
Parke agreed, describing the dialogue as "a two-way street."
“It’s just important to have an open forum where people can come and listen to what the panel has to say, but also to voice their concerns and ask any questions they may have."
Communication isn't only about telling the police what they're doing right, Buchanan noted.
“We want to hear from the public about their input, whether that’s positive or negative. We don’t expect to have rotten tomatoes thrown at us, but quite often people do have concerns about what’s going on with crime in the community and they wonder why police can’t ‘just do the CSI thing,’” he explained. “My main words of encouragement for people to come is to open lines of communication."
Meagan MacEachern, Bonnyville Nouvelle