The new sergeant at the Masset RCMP detachment, Jim Vardy, wants to work with the community to reduce crime.
Sgt. Vardy introduced himself to Masset council on August 8, and said he will be calling on citizens to help develop a community policing plan for the north end of the islands.
He’s just moved to Masset after five years at the west coast marine detachment and said he and his wife are looking forward to the posting here.
“We both want to become part of the community,” he said. “We wanted to come up here.”
The Masset detachment now has eight members, up from six members just a year ago, and another First Nations position should be added within the next year, Sgt. Vardy said.
After reviewing the files here and preparing a report on crime statistics for council, Sgt. Vardy said he was particularly interested in crime reduction strategies.
“The trend everywhere else is (crime) is going down,” he told council. “I don’t know what’s happening here, but it’s sure not going down.”
There were some bright spots in his report: assaults, traffic accidents and impaired driving incidents all decreased in 2004 from 2003 levels.
However, theft, fraud, offensive weapons offences and offences involving drugs other than marijuana all increased, and the overall number of crimes investigated was up by 18 percent.
The Masset detachment seems to spend a lot of time dealing with problems created by alcohol abuse, he said, adding that this is a deep-rooted problem which must be addressed by the entire community.
Sgt. Vardy said other plans for the coming year include putting on the DARE anti-drug program in the local elementary schools – but this turned out to be more controversial than he expected.
Councillor Lorrie Joron, a teacher at the high school, told him she is adamantly opposed to the DARE program and will be lobbying the school board in September to withdraw it.
Ms Joron said research shows the program is not particularly effective, and some research concluded the program was actually counter-productive.
“I am planning on presenting to the school board that it be removed, just to let you know,” she said.
Sgt. Vardy said he was surprised to hear of the opposition, but said it is a national program and he has been instructed to put it on.
“Until I get further marching orders from my superiors, we are going to deliver the program,” he said.
Mayor Barry Pages thanked Sgt. Vardy for his presentation, and told him he’s welcome to meet with council whenever he wants.
“Our door is open,” he said. “Feel free to pop in any time.”
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