Building partnerships to reduce crime

Meadow Lake mayor Gary Vidal (left) chats with RCMP Staff Sgt. Tim Korman prior to a special meeting on crime reduction initiatives held at the Lions Den Aug. 29.

Meadow Lake mayor Gary Vidal (left) chats with RCMP Staff Sgt. Tim Korman prior to a special meeting on crime reduction initiatives held at the Lions Den Aug. 29.

by Phil Ambroziak

“Crime reduction doesn’t begin and end with the police.”

That was the message shared by Meadow Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. Tim Korman during an Aug. 29 meeting at the Lions Den. Close to 20 stakeholders from the community – including politicians, social workers and hospital staff – came together to discuss ways in which the entire community can help lower crime levels.

The highlight of the evening was a presentation by RCMP Sgt. Brian Udey of Prince Albert who introduced those in attendance to a program known as Hub. Already established in Prince Albert and other communities throughout the province, Hub is designed to bring together community groups to identify high-risk individuals and the different challenges they could be facing in life. In turn, it’s hoped this sharing of resources and ideas can help lower crime rates by allowing Hub members to intervene with at-risk families and individuals before issues involving money, employment, education, addictions, domestic violence or some other catalyst leads to a potential criminal act.

“Preventing crime before it happens benefits us all,” Korman said. “Would you rather be the Band-Aid solution after or the proactive solution now?”

Traditionally, those who participate in the Hub program are a cross-section of police, mental health counsellors and addictions workers among others.

“Hub members can be anyone who feels they can bring something to the table or who is truly interested in creating some means of intervention,” Udey explained. “How this shakes out is your decision, but one thing for certain is it’s an initiative that’s driven by the community. The police are only a part of it, but if we don’t intervene, it can sometimes lead to dire results.”

Debbie Carey of the Meadow Lake Hospital was among those on hand for the meeting. She wondered how it’s possible for a program like Hub to function when individual organizations are required to adhere to the privacy rights of the people they serve.

“Currently, the privacy commissioner is working to develop a new protocol, which will be an actual piece of legislation in place to allow you to share certain information without ramifications,” Udey said.

Upon looking at a reduction in crime stats from Prince Albert and other participating communities, Meadow Lake mayor Gary Vidal said it’s an initiative worth considering. Meanwhile, at the close of the meeting, Korman said he would be meeting with Vidal in the coming weeks to see if there’s been any interest from potential members in moving forward with a Hub program locally.

“We would all have to bring something to the program and be committed to it,” he said. “Saskatchewan has high crime rates and our institutions are full. Taking people to jail and locking the doors isn’t always the answer. Intervention can sometimes make a difference, but everyone needs
to help.”

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