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Bonnyville RCMP inviting community feedback on policing issues

Bonnyville RCMP Detachment SUMMER
The Bonnyville RCMP is asking the public to submit questions, comments, and concerns from June 29 to July 10. File photo.

BONNYVILLE – The Bonnyville RCMP want residents to ask questions and say what's on their mind.

From Monday, June 29 to Friday, July 10, members of the public are invited to submit comments and concerns about policing issues within the Town and MD of Bonnyville, Village of Glendon, Fort Kent, La Corey, Iron River, Therien, and Kehewin Cree Nation.

While unable to host a town hall meeting in-person due to the coronavirus, the local detachment wants to make sure they're still connecting with local residents.

“It’s important to stay engaged in the community whether it be chatting with a fellow customer or marching in the Canada Day parade or hosting a regimental ball, it's always been one of the things I love the most about my job,” said Bonnyville RCMP S/Sgt. Sarah Parke. “We too are members of these communities and we want to see that positive relationship between the RCMP and the community, both as police officers and community members.”

Events such as town halls allow officers the opportunity to listen to residents, a trait Parke believes is important for local members to have.

“We know better than most that there are two sides to every story, which makes it all the more important to hear people out,” she stressed. “It’s been several months since our last town hall meeting, and I just think it’s important to ensure community members have a voice even during the current pandemic.”

Although the town hall won’t be the typical face-to-face event, Parke noted the two week period could allow them to receive more responses than they usually do.

“For people that may not otherwise be able to attend an in-person town hall depending on the day we scheduled it, this way everybody can still submit their concerns,” she said, adding no topic is off-limits.

“I’m completely open to whatever is on people’s minds, and I’ll probably be compiling the top 10 most popular inquiries and address them.”

In the past, Parke has noticed rural crime has been a hot topic discussion during town halls.

“More often than not, there’s a handful of topics that affect the majority of attendees so by addressing these topics at an event such as this, we can reach a multitude of community members, many of who we share the same concerns.”

Parke hopes continuing with engagement sessions will encourage members of the public to report all crimes and suspicious activity to the detachment.

“It’s important for people to voice their concerns, and it’s important to keep the lines of communication open,” she stated. “The RCMP aren’t able to help you if we don’t know that you need that help in the first place, so it’s disheartening for us to hear that people have lost trust in the ability of the RCMP to assist them and as a result, they simply don’t report they were a victim. We’re not in a position to help victims of crime if we don’t know that it’s even happened.”

Those interested in submitting comments or concerns can email or send a letter to Bonnyville RCMP at 4515 54 Ave. T9N 0N2.

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle