The City of Meadow Lake will have its say when it comes to policing priorities.

During city council’s April 25 meeting, a letter was received by S/Sgt. Ryan How, detachment commander for the RCMP in Meadow Lake, noting how more public input is being sought in terms of where police will focus their efforts in the year ahead.

“We have had preliminary discussions on where the RCMP’s attention will be focused in the coming year and I am now formally requesting the city’s input to help us tailor our service to the city’s needs,” How noted in his letter. “I’m pleased to report we’re experiencing a continued decline in gang-related violence and our collective efforts to suppress crime are paying dividends. That, combined with the detachment’s increasing staff, will allow the local RCMP more time to be proactive and engaged in the community.”

How went on to state his personal objective as detachment commander is to encourage the RCMP staff to increase the amount of positive interactions with the public.

“We are most effective when we become part of the community,” he said.

Meanwhile, the RCMP throughout all of ‘F’ Division have rolled out a new procedure to its annual planning which will be a reversal of the previous years.

“This year, we are directed to ensure we are hearing the priorities of the communities we serve and relaying that information up to RCMP senior management,” How explained. “It is becoming more and more apparent the RCMP needs to suit its service to the requests of the community and make this a meaningful conversation. I have heard clearly ‘communication’ from the RCMP is extremely important to the City of Meadow Lake. This will remain a priority for the detachment and myself personally. I encourage all elected officials to feel welcome to tell their RCMP exactly what they want and where they need to see policing directed.”

How also said the detachment is excited to be bringing in new supervisors to its leadership team, individuals who will also be asked to assist in these conversations as well.

“They’ve changed how they want the local detachment to work with the city,” reiterated mayor Merlin Seymour during last week’s council meeting. “They used to take direction just from above, but now they would like more input from the city as well.”

Seymour also said, it’s been council’s number one priority in the past to see the RCMP focus on community safety. This was confirmed by city manager Diana Burton.

“Yes, It was, but this needs to be looked at every year,” she said. “This is in regard to this year’s update and is one of the things you will likely discuss when you meet with with Ryan in May – to provide feedback on the areas you would like them to focus on. The RCMP is no longer going to come around and say here are our four priorities we’re being told by ‘F’ Division we have to focus on. They’re trying to listen more to what the community itself wants. That will require more feedback from this table.”

Councillor Conrad Read said, in the past, there were usually one or two suggestions that come from RCMP upper management.

“Years ago we talked about improved communication,” he said. “For example, when someone calls the RCMP regarding an incident, we wanted to have the RCMP call that person back to follow up with them. That wasn’t happening in the past with previous commanders, but, as far as I understand, it is now.”

Burton, meanwhile, echoed her earlier comments by saying the establishment of an area of focus for the RCMP in any community is an annual process that must be revisited each year.

“They’re just changing up how they do things a little bit,” she said.

by Phil Ambroziak