Communication is key, says RCMP

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Resident questions welcome at Oct. 21 virtual town hall

The Hinton RCMP are inviting Hinton and area residents to take part in a virtual town hall this October.

“COVID-19 is impacting all of us and our ability to meet with groups of people and the RCMP is, of course, no exception,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Murphy of the Hinton RCMP detachment.

Murphy added that the community has done well in its response to a challenging 2020, and everyone is trying to change their approaches to continue with every day life.

“The RCMP felt it was important that we try to explore some other alternatives and my hope is the virtual [town hall] will actually have more people participating because I know there are barriers for people to get to a certain location at a certain time,” Murphy said.

This town hall, which will be available online similar to Town of Hinton council meetings, may allow more citizens the opportunity to participate. With the assistance of the Town of Hinton, the virtual town hall allows the RCMP the ability to communicate with the individuals that call this area home.

Citizens can send in questions prior to the event, or type in their questions in a live feed throughout the event. Throughout their presentation, someone will be monitoring the live feed to record all additional questions.

Murphy and other RCMP members will work through the list of questions to address each concern, and will reach out to anyone if their concerns aren’t addressed within the time of the event.

“In order for us to do our job effectively, communication is key. Communicating with the residents of Hinton and Yellowhead County and giving them the opportunity to voice any concerns, to ask any questions,” Murphy said.

Members of the RCMP will share some messages, provide an update with statistics, identify some of the trends, talk about their priorities, and share how their targets and objectives are being accomplished.

RCMP is continuing to closely monitor property crime trends, which have almost completely remained positive this year. This means there has been a reduction in those types of crime compared to 2019.

“In 2019, we had some really high numbers. There were some priorities and initiatives that were implemented in April this year and we’ve seen a reduction throughout the first two quarters,” Murphy said.

The detachment runs its fiscal year from April 1 to the end of March, which means they are just finishing their second quarter. 

Thus far, in these first two quarters there has been a reduction almost across the board. One area of concern was the break and enters, which has seen a decrease of 60 per cent, or 44 fewer incidents compared to the same time period in 2019.

One area that has increased throughout the summer months is family violence. This doesn’t mean charges are always being laid in these incidents, as there are many times RCMP are called to a domestic disturbance in a home setting that doesn’t lead to a criminal charge.

These types of calls give the RCMP the opportunity to work with partner agencies in the community and make referrals for families that may be in a state of crisis.

Hinton RCMP have received 154 family violence calls so far in 2020, which compares to 121 calls in 2019 in the same time period, 122 in 2018, 100 in 2017 and 128 in 2016.

“That was something we kind of expected as we went into COVID-19 with some of the stressors attached to that, also with the economy as well,” Murphy said.

Fortunately, in the first few months of the pandemic, these incidents didn’t rise and the increase only started in the last two months.

“People are getting a little bit nervous about funding, and the government grants. There is a lot of stress right now on a lot of people. It has been a long haul, six months into this, there are some people that are tired,” Murphy added.

Through previous experience, Murphy noted that when the economy is struggling and people are out of work, calls for service typically increase. Although this isn’t always the case.

He added that policing isn’t going to fix that issue and that it has to be a community effort from several community agencies that continue to come together in Hinton. These agencies can address some of the underlying issues or concerns.

Questions from residents for the RCMP town hall are encouraged in advance by email, but are also welcome through the Youtube live chat. The town hall takes place on Oct. 21 from 7 – 9 pm and will also be available to watch online after completion.