Northern RCMP are optimistic that a new crime reduction team in La Ronge will bolster policing initiatives in a region looking to curb rates of gang-related violence and drug abuse.
In last week’s throne speech Saskatchewan announced the creation of new crime reduction teams to be based in La Ronge, Meadow Lake, Lloydminster and Moose Jaw.
“The province announced 54 new positions and so La Ronge was fortunate enough to get six of those,” La Ronge Detachment Commander Staff Sgt. Dean Bridle said.
“It will be a welcome addition to the numbers, that’s for sure.”
Bridle said the extra help will allow its core officers in La Ronge to focus on priority investigations and engage with the community through proactive policing.
“We have a general investigation section here as well comprised of three members. They were pretty focused on doing lots of intelligence-led policing, and investigations over the last while,” Bridle said.
“You’ve seen some of the results of that with the search warrants being executed… lots of cocaine, lots of meth, some money, guns and stuff like that. They’re doing a really good job there. So, this will really help supplement their efforts.”
A recent analysis found that for La Ronge to fully achieve its community policing goals the detachment would need more officers.
“That was a fairly in-depth review. In order to conduct proactive policing rather than reactive we would need an additional 10 positions here to achieve that,” Bridle said.
Bridle compared reactive policing to putting out fires whereas proactive is like planning ahead to prevent.
“Reactive policing, we also call it ‘fire hall policing’ is like when you get a complaint, say an assault in progress, and you’re responding to that as quickly as you can,” Bridle said.
“Proactive is more community driven, like school visits… getting involved in coaching, hockey, baseball or football…. We’ve been lucky to have members here that have had that interest.”
Bridle said the crime reduction team is likely to come into effect this coming spring or summer and will report to the Saskatchewan RCMP North District while based out of La Ronge.
“They’ll work with us in addressing some of our strategic priorities that have been identified in the communities,” Bridle said.
“Crime reduction teams have a mandate more like targeted enforcement. Say, drugs, gangs, guns, stuff like that. They’ll be focused on trying to tackle that for us. So, it’ll be a big help.”
The team won’t only focus on La Ronge and will also be active in the adjacent Lac La Ronge Indian Band reserve and Northern Village of Air Ronge.
Bridle said the initiative will also benefit northeast communities like Stanley Mission, Southend, Pelican Narrows and Pinehouse.
“I’m really looking forward to getting them here. This was just announced last week in the throne speech. Just like with any transfer in the RCMP, it always takes a little bit of time,” Bridle said.
“I’m hoping to see some of them by spring or early summer.”