A sizeable turnout at the Muenster Seniors Centre listened to information and asked questions about community safety and policing at the Safety Consultation Meeting hosted by the Village of Muenster. Guest presenters included officers from the Humboldt RCMP detachment, a representative of Each One Teach One, an organization promoting financial wellness, and members of the Humboldt Alternative Measures Program (HAMP).  

Staff Sergeant Rod Rudnisky introduced himself alongside Corporal Ivan Ottenbreit of the Humboldt RCMP Detachment. Rudnisky covered the calls for service for the Muenster area citing 171 incidents during the past year. There was a dramatic rise from 90 reported incidents during the same period in the previous year. Rudnisky qualified the reason for that dramatic increase was traffic incidents along Highway 5, where speeding tickets are included in the count.  

The RCMP is responding to comments that the public doesn’t see the police patrolling in rural communities, and Rudnisky says there are measures in place to ensure it isn’t the case. 

“Our goal is to be out in communities more. By being out with traffic enforcement, we’re not only making the roads safer, we’re making the community safer. Seeing a police car is a big deterrent for people drinking and driving or those who are thinking of stealing something.” 

In addition to increased traffic enforcement both along the highways and in the community, Rudnisky said there are other crime reduction strategies being put in place, all driven by the stats and data collected locally.  

“One of the areas we’ve been focusing on is prolific offenders. If there’s an offender released on court ordered conditions, we’ll check their conditions. If they’re under curfew, we’ll be going to their place. They’ll see us in a different way; we talk to them, and they see us more as people. They’re more than willing to talk to us.” 

Both officers agreed that communication is a critical component of policing, and it’s important to maintain communication with offenders and with the communities that support policing efforts. With an increase in drug activity, not only in the region but across the country, the need for vigilance and community reporting becomes more important. 

My experience is that if we have strong witnesses in numbers, the situation changes very quickly,” said Cpl. Ottenbreit, “That strength of the community standing behind the victims sends a strong message to the people who are affecting our communities.” 

Also on hand to provide information on financial protection and avoiding crimes like scams and identity theft was Joanne Grywacheski with Each One Teach One. The organization provides protection information and workshops to requesting groups. Scams are on the rise worldwide and the best defense is knowledge.  

Among the leaders in the scam department are so called “love scams” that prey on the emotions and desire for connection, always with a financial demand attached. Emails and attachments and browser pop-ups are other ways that scammers try to entice victims to engage and provide personal or financial information. Another classic is the “prize winning” scam, where an intended victim will be told they’ve won a prize, but they need to submit a sum of money to claim it. Grywacheski says if you win a prize, it’s yours out right; you should never be asked to pay anything. 

Phone scams are also an insidious way of approaching victims. Scammers identifying themselves as bank or Canada Revenue Agency representatives will try to get money or information that gives access to your accounts. Again, agencies such as these will never ask for personal or financial information.  

“The Little Black Book of Scams” is a wonderful primer on the world on online and telephone fraud and is available here.  

Finally, Brenda Shader and Rosalie Venderbuhs from Alternative Measures talked about their work to deliver justice outside the confines of a court room. The program is contracted through Sask Justice, and it has the victim support workers in a restorative justice capacity in cases that require a less harsh legal intervention.  

By agreement with law enforcement, parties can enter into a mediation with Alternative Measures acting as an intermediary to create a working agreement. Once the agreement is signed, the parties live up to the terms and come to closure or an equilibrium that allows both parties to move forward.  

In the case of youth crimes or misdemeanors, the parties can avoid a criminal record or court proceedings altogether, while setting right the wrong and making the victim whole. It’s a confidential service that has the potential to save up to $90,000 in legal, court and processing costs with every intervention. 

All the presenters responded to questions from the audience in an active and engaging exchange. It was the kind of information session that provided community residents with both answers and an avenue to present concerns for agencies to follow up.