Bianca Bharti, Daily Herald
The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities is working on creating a new provincial rural crime watch association.
At their meeting last week with stakeholders, SARM created a working group to head the planning and arrangement of a provincial crime watch body. Members of the group include representatives from the RCMP; Ministry of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing and heads of local crime watch groups.
“We need a provincial association,” said Ray Orb, executive director of SARM. One of the goals for the new group is to develop a standardized system which rural municipalities can use when creating their own crime watch groups.
The group will also develop a best practices model, facilitate communication and maintain a consistent message across RMs’ crime watches in Saskatchewan.
“I think an umbrella group is good for communities that don’t know how to get started,” said Dave Aspinall, chairperson for Vanscoy’s crime watch group.
Lorne Pincemin,head of a crime watch group in Kindersley, said their main form of communication is within the group through WhatsApp. He hopes that with the creation of a province-wide group, representatives from all rural crime watch groups can communicate with each other and share information.
“For instance, if somewhere north or west of us there’s a bunch of vehicles being stolen, we can watch out for the vehicles moving our way,” he said.
“By the crime watches in that area sharing it with admins in our (separate) group, we can decide if that’s information we should share with our members.”
Alberta currently has the Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association, which works with the RCMP to “provide extra eyes and ears” according to their website, as well as focus on crime prevention.
Orb said the working group will look at Alberta’s model to gain some ideas. It will meet every few weeks during the summer to establish plans and put forth a proposal that outlines the responsibilities and duties of a Saskatchewan rural crime watch.
“I think there’s a lot of rural people that feel like they’re sitting ducks and they would like some more support,” said Aspinall. “So provincially, if there was funding for signage for example, that’d be helpful.”
With this new effort, there would be consistent messaging across all rural municipal crime watch groups and they can work more closely with their RCMP detachments.
“We’re hoping in the end, this organization will be created and it will help the RCMP in the fight against rural crime,” Orb said.
SARM represents all of the 296 rural municipalities in Saskatchewan, advocating on their behalf to higher levels of government.