New RCMP backup rules worry rural Sask. residents
Residents concerned about response times when officers have to travel long distances
People living in rural Saskatchewan communities are worried about a new RCMP backup policy that does not allow officers to respond to violent or potentially violent situations on their own.
Under a new policy approved last week, officers must now go to potentially dangerous situations in pairs.
But residents in the southwestern part of the province worry about response times when officers have to travel long distances in areas where several RCMP detachments were closed in 2005.
The small town of Climax, just north of the U.S. border, lost its detachment just over two years ago, as did four other communities in the area.
"If there is a major incident, it could get worse, or it can't get dealt with as quickly because of the distance," said Barb Webber, administrator of the village of Frontier, 15 kilometres from Climax.
The nearest detachment is in Shaunavon, a 45-minute drive to the north.
Webber said the drive to other parts of her area take much longer.
RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Tammy Patterson admitted distance is an issue.
But, she said, the closing of those detachments means the RCMP has the staff to meet the new backup guidelines.
"Because we don't have members working by themselves, or maybe being the only person in the community, we're in a better position to attend calls with a backup— with a second person, or a third or a fourth person," Patterson said.
"You're on call, and if you're called at home you're expected to attend. Our response times are very good in those situations as well. The members are aware they're on call and they're ready to go," she said.
The new policy was introduced after two RCMP officers were killed while responding to calls on their own in remote northern communities.
RCMP Const. Douglas Scott, 20, was killed in Kimmirut, Nunavut, on Nov. 5. A month earlier, Const. Christopher Warden was gunned down in Hay River, N.W.T.