The Meadow Lake RCMP is ready to make community safety a round-the-clock responsibility.

“The need for 24-hour policing is recognized and the Meadow Lake detachment is implementing a schedule that will provide around-the-clock service,” stated S/Sgt. Ryan How, commanding officer at the Meadow Lake RCMP detachment. “While the Meadow Lake detachment is managing several vacancies, the 24-hour model will be in place indefinitely as long as it is sustainable. This will increase response and allow the members periods of rest without being recalled for duty.”

Prior to How’s recent return to Meadow Lake, Sgt. Stephen Hurst – who served as detachment commander at the time – told Northern Pride there had been active discussions between the RCMP and the City of Meadow Lake about the possibility of moving to a 24-hour policing model. According to Meadow Lake mayor Merlin Seymour, the subject was also one of several discussed during a recent meeting between How and city council.

“That’s when we were told they were in the process of implementing 24-hour policing, but I don’t know all the details,” Seymour said.

The mayor did say, though, he is pleased with the fact police will be on duty and actively patrolling city streets at all times.

“Absolutely, it’s good news because 24-hour policing will hopefully be a benefit to everyone,” he said. “Without 24-hour policing and with members instead being on-call, well, a cost is incurred when those members are called in. If S/Sgt. How is able to make this work, that’s awesome… I didn’t know, however, it would be in place this quickly.”

The 24-policing model is expected to assist the RCMP with ongoing efforts to curb crime, particularly violent crime, within the community.

“Throughout 2020 and into 2021, Meadow Lake RCMP have been dealing with increasing violence and firearms complaints primarily involving two street gangs, the Terror Squad and Easy Money,” How explained. “RCMP believe the majority of the firearms incidents are to intimidate and retaliate against rival gang members. Regardless of the motives, these incidents are completely unacceptable and have impacted innocent community members and the city as a whole.”

In the past few weeks, the local detachment has implemented a strategic plan to reduce gang violence. This plan has four “pillars” including enforcement, intelligence, education/communication and gang exit strategy.

“To be successful, the RCMP will be strengthening partnerships with various agencies and individuals in the area to facilitate leaving a gang and to address the root causes of gang recruiting,” How said. “Specific to the enforcement component, reducing gang violence will remain the top priority for the Meadow Lake RCMP and will be done in a strategic and focused approach. Recently, Sgt. Hurst (who has resumed his official role as operations NCO) has coordinated these efforts with some immediate success.”

Between Jan. 23 and 24, RCMP responded to three separate firearms incidents in Meadow Lake, incidents that led to shots being fired, people being injured and several arrests being made (see last week’s Northern Pride). As How noted, these incidents are believed to be gang-related while many of the people arrested in connection with these crimes are known street gang associates.

Know your gangs

According to How, throughout the last year, police have been dealing with increased violence and firearms complaints primarily involving two street gangs – the Terror Squad and Easy Money.

How also said neither gang shies away from promoting their respective “brand” and members of each are usually quite easy to identify.

“Terror Squad members wear black and white almost exclusively and make it overtly obvious by having bandanas visible at times as well,” How explained.

Terror Squad members also use stylized Ts as graffiti and the numbers 20 and 19 to correspond with the same letters in the alphabet – 20 for T and 19 for S.

“Easy Money members will have blue bandanas and other accessories,” How added. “Both gangs are getting clothing printed with their respective gang’s identifiers on them.”

He also said members of both gangs mostly have ties to the Meadow Lake area.

“Though some are known to be from outside the community,” he said.

Meanwhile, as part of its gang and violence suppression strategy, the RCMP is encouraging anyone associated with a gang, but who wants out to seek assistance by contacting STR8 UP in northern Saskatchewan at 306-763-3001, STR8 UP in central Saskatchewan at 306-244-1771, or Regina Treaty Status Indian Services in southern Saskatchewan at 306-522-7494 to get assistance.

by Phil Ambroziak