SARM members want more action on rural crime
RCMP met with rural municipalities during annual convention
After a tense summer that saw farmers arming themselves during harvest, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) says more work needs to be done to battle rural crime.
After becoming frustrated with what they saw as a lack of response from RCMP, farmers created a Facebook group this summer to track suspicious activity in rural areas.
At one point, a farm worker said he was held up by three armed men with handguns during harvest.
This week, Saskatchewan RCMP's new commanding officer, Curtis Zablocki, addressed the group at its annual convention. He said the best way to reduce crime was to focus on community engagement.
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While SARM president Ray Orb said he would still like to see more RCMP patrolling rural areas, he agreed that mobilizing farmers was a good idea.
"Rural Crime Watch is a program that worked really effectively in Saskatchewan a number of years ago," he said. "And we're encouraging rural municipalities to contact RCMP, their local detachments, and to begin that program again."
Orb acknowledged that times are tough financially in the province, and it may be difficult getting more resources for extra police in the countryside.
However, he said current resources, like community safety officers, could work more closely with RCMP and get more value for the dollar.
"Some rural municipalities already have those officers out there," said Orb. "They can do some traffic enforcement … But they can also work with the RCMP and they can report things that they see and they can take feedback."
SARM represents all of the province's 296 rural municipalities.