RCMP says peacekeeper program in Pelican Narrows, Sask. making a dramatic difference

RCMP in Pelican Narrows say a peacekeeper project in the northern village is making the community noticably safer.

No homicides in northern community since program came into effect

The Village of Pelican Narrows has peacekeepers who act as first-responders at house fires, traffic accidents and other emergency situations. (Tourism Saskatchewan)

Dean Lerat knows about the violent history of Pelican Narrows.

Lerat is the staff sergeant at the northern village's RCMP detachment. 

The village has a history of drugs, assaults and violent death. In 2015, a prosecutor involved in a murder case in the community of 2,703 said there was a full-blown gang war underway between two groups, the Wong-Streeters and Bronxers.

In January, the community came together and created the peacekeeper program. Seven people were trained to assist the RCMP in watching the community and nipping trouble in the bud.

Lerat said there have been no homicides since the program started.

"To me, that's proof in the pudding right there that they're doing a fantastic job since they've started by helping us prevent those type of crimes happening," he said in an interview.

"The violent crime has gone down, I can tell you by them being visible in the community they alert us immediately when they see any type of fighting or disturbances."

Shannon Custer​ is the program's supervisor. She says two teams of three and four officers work alternating seven-day stretches, starting at 7 p.m. CST each night and working 12 hours.

"They are front-line workers and they assist where they are required," she said.

The officers are not armed, but they wear uniforms and drive in marked vehicles. Custer said that they'll be getting enhanced training in November so that they can more actively assist RCMP.