Saskatchewan RCMP pilot project to address crime in Battlefords area underway

A pilot program to deal with criminal activity is well underway in the Battlefords area of Saskatchewan.

Several specialized units within the Saskatchewan RCMP are part of the program, and include the Saskatchewan Enforcement Response Team, the Combined Traffic Services Section, Indigenous Policing Services, and the Battlefords Gang Task Force.

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RCMP said the program is focusing on enhancing the relationships with communities and First Nations in the area, increasing targeted criminal enforcement, and education/gang intervention.

Jesse Gilbert is the inspector for the Battlefords detachment, and said this is a six-month-long project that started back in January.

“This area does consistently rank top in the country on those yearly releases. Gangs are obviously an issue here,” Gilbert said.

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He said things have been done in the past to try and address gangs in the area, but it was noted that an infusion of resources was needed if they were going to make an impact.

Gilbert said they needed to build relationships in the surrounding communities, noting they’d just be spinning their tires on the enforcement side of things if those relationships weren’t established.

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He said they are bringing a range of other teams into the fold as well, calling it a very comprehensive project.

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“People work together well, but it’s the first time we’ve all been brought together with a single mandate and kind of a groundwork with what we’re trying to achieve.”

Gilbert said next week will mark the halfway point of the project.

“I’m very happy with the results so far.”

He said the crime reduction team has executed over 100 warrants since the beginning of the project in January. There’s been 95 new criminal code charges and 92 additional provincial charges.

Gilbert said traffic services has been used to increase visibility within the communities, and have added 551 charges and 757 warnings.

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He noted that this project will answer a key question, saying that detachments across the country have been asking for more resources, including the Battlefords area, and this project is the opportunity to prove what could be achieved if those resources were given.

“So that’s one thing that we’re trying to see, is whether that infusion of resources does have a measurable impact.”

Gilbert added that a lot of data collection is underway to allow them to see what could possibly be done in other detachments.

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