City seeks improved information sharing with RCMP

Social media challenges traditional information channels

Wetaskiwin city councillors had some big questions for Insp. Keith Durance during a recent protective services department report, held during council’s Sept. 25 meeting.

Following Durance’s prepared presentation, Coun. Wayne Neilson questioned Durance on, when it comes to significant incidences within the community, what is the RCMP able to share and not share either privately or publicly with council?

“That’s a bold question,” said Durance.

When it comes to ongoing investigations, Durance says the RCMP has to be careful what information is released and through different channels, so not to compromise the integrity of the investigation.

“My big point of view is I don’t want to put out false information,” said Durance.

Mayor Bill Elliot spoke up, saying the city faces challenges in keeping current with important information when social media moves faster than other official channels. “Sometimes things show up on Facebook before we know about them.”

Coun. Bert Horvey questioned Durance on how the Wetaskiwin RCMP department deals with public confidence and angst in the wake of significant city events. He also asked how confidences are re-built within the department.

“A good, critical debriefing works very well. They’re resilient folk,” said Durance.

When it comes to communicating with the city and public to share information and address concerns, Durance says organizations such as Rural Crime Watch and Victim Services both play a role; as well as press releases and other forms of public notification.

Public consultations will also be held for the detachment’s strategic priority planning process.

“It’s important they see your face,” said Horvey, expressing his pleasure for public consultation.

Coun. Tyler Gandam asked Durance what methods could be employed to help reduce theft in the city.

“Targeting prolific offenders,” said Durance. “There are real good results that can be had from targeting prolific offenders.”

Durance added another person had been moved to the detachment’s crime reduction team to help target the prolific offenders.

Gandam also sought Durance’s opinion as to what he sees as the city’s biggest issue.

Three main prevalent issues are vagrancy, prolific offenders and violent crime. However, with the last issue, Durance says he is going to wait until the end of the year to see how the numbers come in on violent crimes.

amelia.naismith@pipestoneflyer.ca