Drug is­sue in the spot­light at RCMP Town Hall

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - SCOTT AN­DER­SON SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

The topic of drugs was the cen­tral is­sue at the Swift Cur­rent Mu­nic­i­pal RCMP’S Town Hall meet­ing on Novem­ber 8.

The de­tach­ment’s top pri­or­ity in 2018, set in con­sul­ta­tion with Swift Cur­rent City Coun­cil, is to pre­vent and re­duce the threat and im­pact of se­ri­ous and or­ga­nized crime re­lated to drug traf­fick­ing. This fo­cus is wide reach­ing across the com­mu­nity ac­cord­ing to Staff Sergeant Gary Hodges.

“When we look at drugs and or­ga­nized crime as our pri­or­ity, a lot of peo­ple when they hear that they think, ok the po­lice are af­ter peo­ple that are traf­fick­ing in drugs, peo­ple that are in pos­ses­sion of drugs, but it’s far more out­reach­ing,” Staff Sgt. Hodges ex­plained. “Its like the trunk of the tree. And then you look at the branches that go out, and the im­pacts that drugs can have within your com­mu­nity on other things such as thefts. Peo­ple will steal to sup­port their drug habits. Frauds. Peo­ple will de­velop credit cards that are fraud­u­lent in or­der to again ob­tain money to sup­port their drug habit.”

“So when we say we’re fo­cussing on drugs, that’s the root cause of a lot of other crime within the com­mu­nity. So if we min­i­mize that drug abuse, we will see an im­pact on min­i­miz­ing other crimes within the com­mu­nity.”

He agreed that the scope of the drug prob­lem in the com­mu­nity has oc­curred as a com­bi­na­tion of more em­pha­sis from the RCMP and an in­crease of drugs in the com­mu­nity.

“I think we’ve seen an in­crease in some of the harder drugs, some of the opi­ates within the com­mu­nity. And that’s just a re­flec­tion of so­ci­ety I think as a whole all around. We’re see­ing that in­flux of the opi­ates and the harder drugs, and when you see that you see more of the ef­fects of drugs as op­posed to some­one who’s maybe smok­ing mar­i­juana or cannabis.”

“We have seen those harder drugs come into the com­mu­nity and we’ve seen the im­pacts of them in the last two or three years.”

Staff Sgt. Hodges noted in his pre­sen­ta­tion that the Swift Cur­rent City RCMP have made a pre­sen­ta­tion to Swift Cur­rent City Coun­cil re­gard­ing the hir­ing of two ad­di­tional RCMP of­fi­cers who would solely be tasked with han­dling drug cases.

“If coun­cil does deem the need for more of­fi­cers in the com­mu­nity, they def­i­nitely would be fo­cussed on that area.”

With the City De­tach­ment re­spond­ing to 7,663 calls for ser­vice be­tween April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, they have been si­mul­ta­ne­ously tasked with longer term drug in­ves­ti­ga­tions. This work­load is chal­leng­ing be­cause of the ex­tremely time con­sum­ing and labour in­ten­sive work spent on drug files.

“They don’t get solved overnight for the most part. They take a lot of pe­riph­ery work and back­ground, de­vel­op­ing in­for­ma­tion. We rely on the com­mu­nity for a lot of that in­for­ma­tion to be suc­cess­ful in drug en­force­ment,” Staff Sgt. Hodges said dur­ing the town hall.

“When it comes to drugs, its a cul­ture al­most of its own within a com­mu­nity. Once its em­bed­ded in a com­mu­nity like it is here, it’s very dif­fi­cult to elim­i­nate it. It’s next to im­pos­si­ble. So we try and curb it as much as we can. And to do that we need peo­ple in the com­mu­nity to help us. That’s the only way we can do it is for the com­mu­nity to take own­er­ship and help us pro­vid­ing that in­for­ma­tion that we need for these in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

Staff Sergeant Gary Hodges shared de­tails of lo­cal polic­ing pri­or­i­ties at the RCMP Town Hall meet­ing on Novem­ber 8 .

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