North

Fort Providence, N.W.T., woman plans citizen patrol group

A woman in Fort Providence, N.W.T., wants to start a citizen patrol group because she says there have been a number of violent crimes recently, and the RCMP is not always responsive.

'I sure as heck expect the RCMP to get out of bed to help a stranger,' says Linda Croft

Linda Croft, the manager of the Snowshoe Inn, says this summer a man showed up in the lobby of the Snowshoe Inn bleeding and asking for the RCMP. She says it took an hour for the officer to arrive, despite being just a couple of blocks away. Now, she wants to start a citizens patrol group. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

A woman in Fort Providence, N.W.T., wants to start a citizen patrol group because she says there have been a number of violent crimes recently, and the RCMP is not always responsive.

Linda Croft manages the community's Snowshoe Inn, and says the hotel is broken into two or three times a year.

This summer, she says a man showed up in the lobby at 3 a.m., bleeding and asking for the RCMP.

Croft says when she called, the officer told her he wasn't coming.

"He point blank said 'Throw him out.' And I said 'What do you mean, throw him out?'"

Croft says the Snowshoe Inn is broken into two or three times a year and there have been several violent incidents in the community this year. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Croft says she told the officer she wasn't going to do that, and he only came when she threatened to call the media.

"I sure as heck expect the RCMP to get out of bed to help a stranger," Croft says.

That wasn't the only violent incident this summer, she says. A co-worker's son was badly beaten "within inches, minutes of death," and yet Croft says no one has ever been punished, despite rumours circulating of who did it.

That's the case all too often in the small town, Croft says — people know who's committing the crimes, but don't want to go to the police.

"There is frustration I think on both sides," Croft says. "And hopefully citizens on patrol will kill that frustration and we can start working together, and maybe citizens here will have more belief and support and feeling for the RCMP."

She says the group would take photographs, keep records, and, most importantly, speak up.

"You can't just be part of the program and then say, 'Oh I can't report that because that's my sister or that's my uncle.'

"I know the people I've been in discussion with... they're not afraid to speak up, they're not afraid to point the finger when they know," Croft says.

Police need more than rumours

There have been six break and enters reported in Fort Providence so far this year, according to the RCMP.

Const. Elenore Sturko, a spokesperson for the RCMP, said in an email that they've heard complaints that police aren't doing anything about the crimes, even though "everyone knows" who's responsible.

She says officers have explained at community meetings that they need more than a "gut feeling or rumours" to arrest someone — they need statements from victims.

Sturko also addressed the incident at the Snowshoe Inn, saying there was a performance issue regarding the officer's response, and he was told he should have responded more urgently.

Sturko says the idea for a community safety group has come up before in Fort Providence, and the RCMP would support the initiative.

'We will certainly do what we can to help in terms of the hamlet council,' says Tina Gargan, the mayor of Fort Providence, of starting a citizens patrol group. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Tina Gargan, the mayor of Fort Providence, also thinks the group is a great idea.

"People are beginning to feel frightened and afraid and I think if we pull together as a community, it could be a great initiative."

Gargan says it will be brought up in council this week.

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