Citizens on Patrol group launches in Fort Providence, N.W.T.
'Somebody needs to be made an example of,' says Linda Croft, group's leader
Residents of Fort Providence, N.W.T. are divided over how to address a rash of crime that's sweeping through the community.
Over the last few months there's been a string of break and enters at local businesses and homes in the community. Many residents are pointing the finger at troublesome youth, and say not enough is being done to stop them.
This month, a group of volunteers launched a Citizens On Patrol group — an eyes and ears program that works with the RCMP.
"We go out in the evenings with notebooks and flashlights and if we notice any unusual activity we make note of that, and if we see a crime we report it to the RCMP," says Linda Croft, the manager of the Snowshoe Inn, which has been broken into several times.
Croft spearheaded the group after the rash of break-ins before Christmas. She's recruited nine volunteers and she's hoping more will sign up.
"Some people when they see us they wave, other people take off and run in the other direction, so people know now that we're out there, and we're everywhere."
The group reported suspicious activity to the police this weekend and say they prevented a break-in.
Croft hopes the criminals will be prosecuted.
"Somebody needs to be made an example of," she said.
"If we keep just turning the other way, or giving them 50 community [service] hours, but allowing them to enjoy the community the same as people who don't break the law, there's no stopping them."
'Crying for help'
"It's been a real challenge trying to deal with it. Obviously there are a lot of people that are really frustrated, and it's going unabated," said Joachim Bonnetrouge.
"Some people are saying just round them up and put them in jail. From the band side, we believe that is not the way to go because this problem, this challenge, these young people, they belong to us."
Bonnetrouge says the band is trying to secure funding from the territorial government to set up on-the-land programming for offenders by early February.
"The idea was to set up maybe two to three bush camps, but also have counsellors go out and visit them and work with them," he said.
"Some of these young people are just crying out for help, they need attention, they need some nurturing, and we need to show them that there are people in [Fort] Providence that do care for them, and we will do our best to work with them."
Police trying to cope
Break and enters in Fort Providence did go up in 2015, according to the RCMP
"The recent break and enter offences in the community have created concern for both ourselves, the police, and the residents," says Constable Samuel Holm, a spokesperson for the RCMP.
Holm says police in the community are trying to cope.
"Fort Providence RCMP have adapted their police services in the community to address the issue, including late night patrols and their support of the citizens patrol program."