Any city relies on their emergency services, whether it’s due to an accident or trying to help with crime. But what are those services doing in the community? The Yorkton RCMP and Yorkton Fire Protective Services updated attendees of the most recent Chamber of Commerce luncheon about what they’re doing in the community.
The lunch came in the wake of a major change for the Yorkton RCMP. It has been a week since the Yorkton Rural RCMP and Yorkton Municipal RCMP merged into one detachment, all under the same roof in city hall.
Staff Sgt. Jeff Simpson said that while it’s very early into the change, and as a result many plans are still in the future, they are excited about what having both detachments together will allow them to do. And one thing that is clear is that the change will allow them to do more both within the community and the surrounding area.
“Overall, we’re starting to see some of the benefits of the amalgamation. Our operations are running a little bit more smoothly and seamlessly between the previously two detachments in the area, and we hope that continues.”
With the efficiency that the change brings, the RCMP has been able to extend 24-hour policing to the entire area, not just the City of Yorkton. The change also allows teams easier coordination, as crime doesn’t limit itself to municipal boundaries.
The RCMP is also creating more teams within the region. A third person has been added to the Crime Reduction Unit (CRU), up from two people previously. The city now has it’s own three-member General Investigation Section (GIS), which it did not have before the change. There will also be an officer permanently attached to the schools with the creation of a full-time School Resource Officer (SRO). While Simpson noted that they always tried to be involved in the schools before, having a full-time officer allows them to do more.
“With that position we’re hoping to hit some of these problems on a proactive basis. That would be one of the jobs of that unit, some education, some awareness, maybe even some peer mentoring, to get ahead of those problems at the beginning stages.On the other side, we use our crime reduction unit and our police officers to tackle it from an enforcement perspective… By being able to build upon these specialty units we’re sometimes able to tackle these problems from two different angles.”
Yorkton has a relatively high number on the Crime Severity Index (CSI), a number compiled by Statistics Canada to see where and what crime is happening in the country, which Simpson reflected on in the presentation.
“Some things we can prevent, whether through education or proactive policing, and other things we can’t prevent, they just happen. No matter how many cars are on the street, it doesn’t necessarily prevent a domestic assault from happening within a house, or a drug sale from happening, or a drug sale from occurring, or a homicide, necessarily, from taking place. I’d like to say we use those statistics, along with a number of other internal measures, to see where those peaks and valleys are happening and direct resources accordingly. Not only the types of crimes, but where they’re occurring, what time they might be occurring at, who they may be occurring by. There’s a number of factors that we change and alter our policing service delivery model based on.”
Yorkton Fire Protective Services was represented by Fire Chief Trevor Morrissey. He talked about how Yorkton is becoming a model for fire services in Canada.
“Mid-size cities have an issue with where they go with staffing, to ensure that they are providing a great initial response and a great depth of service. We’ve come up with a model, working with our management and staff, which has proven to work.”
That model is their temporary firefighter program. The program exists to help fire departments cover staff absences without overtime costs. When a full time member needs time off, whether for vacation, illness or other reasons, they have people in place who can fill that position. It helps with the budget, but it also helps with the work-life balance of members, preventing the burnout that comes with working long hours with little time off.
Part of making the program work was that the entire department is on board, said Morrissey.
“We’re fortunate enough that our staff have really bought into the program and they provide input to help make it better. I think that’s the key part, when your staff works together to make it work, it will work.”
The department is also working with fire underwriters, Morrissey said. They have improved their service, and the goal was to prove to insurers that there is less risk for businesses in Yorkton, something that would be a high priority for a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The end goal would be to see insurance rates go down in the city, because Morrissey said they will prove that the businesses in town are at less risk than they might be if they were located elsewhere, thanks to changes made within the department.