(Up To October 13, 2007)
Hello neighbor and welcome back to the Blotter, and what a week its been here in the Ridge. Before I get into the nitty gritty of the happenings in a small town, I want to take a moment to honor Cst. Chris Worden. Chris was killed while responding to a call in Hay River, NWT. I remember Chris from my time as an instructor at Depot. He is now the fifth officer that I have helped train who has been murdered while on duty in the past three years.
In order to put Chris death in perspective, let me tell you a little bit about Hay River. Hay River is a small town where everyone knows everyone. Not much happens there. On the weekends, kids party in the bush. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they damage property or smash bottles, and sometimes they get pregnant. On Monday mornings the coffee shop is full of people talking about who did what to whom. ?So and so got caught for impaired driving and its high time since hes been driving drunk for years.? Someone drove across a lawn and left some ruts. If you happen to be the victim of a crime over the weekend, good luck getting a hold of an officer when the office opens on Monday. They are all off shift. The lone clerk is sitting at the her desk trying to sort out mounds of paper, answer the phones, deal with people at the front counter and deal with a host of other duties.
Nothing of any consequence has happened in Hay River for years. Thats why people like it. Its quiet. Its close to nature. Its safe. Its a good place to raise your family. RCMP officers come and go, and just when you start to know them, theyre transferred. Some officers have been good and some, well- not so good.
However, in the last little while Hay River is becoming busier. With the increase in resource development and exploration it seems like new people are moving into town every day. Its getting harder to recognize faces. Contractors and their employees are continually coming and going. You hear rumors of drugs. Lots of drugs and lots of different kinds. Not just weed. Why cant the cops do something about it? Family violence seems to be on the rise, and so is violence against women. Whats going on? And then to top it off, some hard core criminal comes to town and kills a young Mountie. Why wasnt this criminal in jail? Take a look at his record. Take a look at his outstanding charges. This is outrageous.
Hay River sounds a lot like several communities in the Peace, doesnt it? So what are we going to do about it? Before I tell you what I am proposing, I need to give you some very important information. By now, youve all seen the picture of Chris baby daughter. Her name is Alexis. Shell never have the opportunity for her dad to give her a piggy back ride. Shell have to find a substitute to walk her down the aisle. And for years, shell watch her Mom cry on thanksgiving. In fact, her Mom is going to cry for no apparent reason. So is her Grandma and Grandpa.
Now this is where you come in. A trust fund has been set up for Alexis. Jodie, the Mom of Alexis, will be able to use the funds for Alexis. For education, for future needs, for whatever. If you wish to help out, please head to any branch of the CIBC. Quote the ?Alexis Worden Trust Fund.? Account number 2784033, transit 03192. Twenty bucks will go a long way. Its not much, but its the principle of the act that really adds up.
So what am I going to do about this? Im going to start locally. In this edition, youll see the court report. I would like a group of citizens to form a ?Court Watch? program. They will attend all court dates and watch. They have the power to hold the courts accountable, the police accountable and the lawyers accountable. They can report on whats happening, but more importantly, on whats not happening.
Secondly, I have submitted a grant request to the District of Tumbler Ridge for $20,000. These funds would be used to hire a Community Policing Coordinator. We have lots of very good volunteers who are skilled at what they do. What we (the RCMP) need is a person to coordinate all of the programs. To assist in training, in recruiting and retention. We need someone who is skilled at applying for provincial and federal grants. To help raise funds from the private sector so that we can provide for the needs of the community, especially those who have been victimized by the criminal element.
I dont want you to be scared. This community is safe. Its a good place to raise a family. There are good people who live here, lots of them. I want to keep it that way. If you wish to help out, let me give you list of Community Policing groups that are already operating in town. Citizens On Patrol (COPS), Restorative Justice, Police Based Victim Services. Soon we will have a Court Watch Program. If you could help out, please give me a call at (250)242-5252. Id appreciate any help that you could offer, whether it be labor, a dollar or most important, moral support.
We ll talk again next week the Good Lord Willing.
Keep it between the ditches.
Cpl. Kurt Peats