Gang activity in the city remains a primary concern for Mounties at the Meadow Lake detachment.
Officers addressed gangs and other topics at a local town hall meeting held last night. Around 50 community members attended at the Catholic Church Hall to hear Staff Sgt. Tim Sartison and Sgt. Ryan How speak about the ins and outs of the detachment along with the number and types of calls officers handle.
How said there is a definite presence of Terror Squad members in Meadow Lake. Members of the well-known street gang vary in age, he said, but the youngest officers encountered was 12 years old. Officers have had some success reducing violence by preventing the spread of rival gangs, How said, but the Terror Squad is still a major concern.
“It’s a bit of a brand name in Meadow Lake,” he said. “If you’re going to be bad you’re going to say you’re a member of the Terror Squad.”
Last year the detachment responded to 6,374 files, including 531 property crimes, 618 incidents of mischief and 349 assaults, which include everything from aggravated assault to sexual misconduct.
“These [assault files] are what tie up the majority of our investigators’ time," How said, "as these one are quite serious and require a lot of follow up."
How said officers regularly meet with RM, city and local Indigenous leadership, visit schools, and work with various agencies to assist with issues and safety.
Sartison stressed the importance of reporting incidents to police, and said the detachment plans to increase their patrols in areas identified by community members.
“If I know that this part of town or an area in the rural community is facing a high amount of vandalism and I can use target patrols, there’s a lot of value there,” he said. “You would be amazed at how often crime happens that doesn’t get reported.”
The question of self defence was raised during the meeting by a multiple community members, who voiced concerns about police response times in rural areas. How said it’s always best to call on police for assistance.
“Are we going to be in your yard immediately? No, but [officers from] Pierceland, Waterhen, Meadow Lake and Loon Lake are going to be converging,” he said. “We all share the same radio, but if we don’t know about it we can’t help.”
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