Submitted by Sgt. Eric Stubbs Commanding Officer, Queen Charlotte Detachment, RCMP–I felt a need to respond to Lady Tinor’s letter published last week in the Observer. I want to extend our apologies to her in regards to the circumstances surrounding her call to our office.
The issue centered around the failure of the Terrace dispatch in calling our members to attend to prowlers on her property. We have discussed this issue with the supervisor in Terrace and he has now changed some of their policies when dealing with callers from remote areas.
A number of people have expressed concern with the process of calling our office after hours. They feel having to be transferred to a dispatcher in Terrace is confusing and takes too long. I can understand a complainant’s frustration when calling during an emergency and having to press buttons. I want to address the procedure for contacting our office after hours, (from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.), or on weekends. When calling, an answering machine will immediately instruct you to press ‘1’ if your report is an emergency. This will transfer the call to the dispatcher in Terrace. If it is a non-emergency call, then there are directions on how a message can be left. Unfortunately, all small communities in B.C. are faced with having their emergency calls transferred to a dispatch- center in a larger city. This is unavoidable and something we have to deal with for the foreseeable future.
In recent weeks, a number of suspects have been breaking into vacant buildings, going through unlocked vehicles and committing acts of vandalism. This is a concern to our office and we have taken steps to try and curb this outbreak. Among other strategies, foot and bicycle patrols have been conducted. As well, some information has been received as to who maybe responsible for these offences. We will continue to investigate.
I’ve been working in Queen Charlotte for the past eight months and have recognized the amount of work that needs to be done in our communities. To help alleviate the workload, I have arranged for an extra member to live in Queen Charlotte. As well, we will have a new First Nations officer living in Skidegate. Both members will be here in May.
The communities in both Skidegate and Queen Charlotte have expressed an interest in forming a Citizens on Patrol program for the area. I am supportive of this project and have taken some initial steps to form a group. Briefly, the program consists of two citizens patrolling the community during the evenings in a private car. If anything appears suspicious, they will contact the on duty member for attendance. I have worked with these groups in other communities and they are effective. However, the organization of the group does take some effort. Some start-up funding is required for training, radios and fuel. A community organizer is needed to assist with the running of the group. Lastly, the volunteers to do the patrolling. Depending on the numbers that commit to the program, each volunteer would be asked to do one shift per month, (4-6 hour patrol). We will have a formal request for volunteers in a few weeks. However, if you are interested in participating, please contact our office for more details.
Finally, I want to comment on Ms Tinor’s statement about feeling unsafe in our community. Given the blunder that occurred with her experience, I won’t discount her view. However, the islands are a safe place to live. Statistically, we have a very low level of violence or offences committed against people. The actions of a few should not stigmatize the community as unsafe.
Having said that, times have changed. Leaving your residence unlocked when away or vehicles insecure have to be avoided. The message here is let’s work together to make living in our communities safer for everyone. I encourage anyone with information that may assist our office in fighting crime to call. If desired, anonymity will be guaranteed.
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