By Don Norman
A community meeting to address crime in Pine Falls was held at the Pine Falls Curling Club on Sunday, April 8. The meeting was facilitated by Courtney Martin, who was born and raised in Pine Falls but currently lives in California. She was back in the area to visit friends and family when her parents Wayne and Sandy Martin were victims of a recent break in.
There were well over 100 people in attendance. Members of the RCMP, a representative from a private security company, and Powerview-Pine Falls Mayor, Bev Dube were there to address the questions.
After a brief introduction by Martin, Joanne Raymond was the first to speak and suggested a bylaw that would levy a heavy fine against the resident of a property who is charged with drug related offences. She also suggested that when the perpetrators are caught, they should be made to face their victims and face the consequences of their misdeeds.
“We’re all good people, we just fall into bad situations and make bad choices,” said Raymond. “They’re doing things to feed a habit. They have to be held accountable,” she continued suggesting tasks like cleaning up the community. “Don’t slap their wrists, make them work off what they’ve done to affect the community and be a solution to a better community.”
Some of the most important points were made by Glen Reitlo from the RCMP. He said that it’s important to act as the eyes and ears of the local RCMP and watch for houses where things seem out of the ordinary. “Are there a lot of vehicles coming in and out of the house? Is it all hours of the day?” Said Reitlo. He suggested taking down licence plates coming in and out of the homes. “These are all things that can help and can be evidence that police can use to get a warrant. “
He said that the police aren’t just reactive (as one speaker had suggested earlier). He said there’s a lot that the RCMP can do to help prevent crimes and he said they take that role seriously. “I’d rather say that there’s no crime here than that we’re solving every crime here.”
He also mentioned the provincial program called the Safe Communities act. “It’s a great program – I have nothing but good things to say about that program,” Reitlo enthused. The program holds landlords accountable for their tenants’ illegal behaviour.
He explained that if you have a concern about a house, you can report it to the province through that act. “They have their own investigators. They do their own surveillance. They get the evidence together and eventually they can close the house. They kick out everyone, board it up and say you’re out of the house.” He also pointed out that the investigations are self-contained and do not utilize police resources that are already stretched thin.
He was very supportive of the idea of a “Citizens on Patrol” neighbourhood watch type program. He said he had seen them implemented in municipalities that cover large geographic areas and in those places, it did pose a challenge, but he said the model would work well in Powerview-Pine Falls. “You’ve got a zone here that is manageable and easy to patrol.”
At the end of the meeting Martin was encouraging people to volunteer to take part in future focus groups and the citizens on patrol program. She provided sign up sheets. “If there’s ever been a need for volunteers in this community, it’s now!” she said.
Below are listed some things you can do to make the community safer (these were condensed from a Facebook post on Courtney Martin’s Facebook page)…
Safer Community Act
If you are seeing illegal or suspicious activity, please CALL the Safer Community Act directly @ (204) 945-3475. For more information, please see https://www.gov.mb.ca/justice/safe/scna.html#1
If you would like to be involved in focus groups working on the problem, of if you’d like to volunteer to patrol the community, email Your Name and Phone Number to: firstname.lastname@example.org, In your email, please mention which program you are interested in (the Focus Group, or Patrolling or both). If you would like more information, please call the town office @ (204) 367-8483
Make your place safe!
Community Members and RCMP on patrol need to be able to see what’s happening on your property at night if you want their help! TURN YOUR EXTERIOR LIGHTS ON AT NIGHT to help light up your property. This way suspicious activity can be seen, and reported by patrolling RCMP, helpful neighbours, the Bear Clan, and Citizens on Patrol. If you’re going to be away, let your neighbours know so they can keep a watchful eye out for you and your property. Notify them to call the authorities if they see any suspicious activity. Get a Monitored Home Security System Installed.
Call the Police
Always report suspicious activity directly to the police. They need to be informed so they can take action. During an Emergency Call 911 or 204-367-2222. General line for the RCMP: 204-367-8728
CRIMESTOPPERS: Always Anonymous Call: 1 (800) 222-8477 (TIPS) or Text “TIPMAN” + YOUR MESSAGE to CRIMES (274637) https://manitobacrimestoppers.com/
In the event that someone enters your home when you are present, you need to make as much noise as possible to wake you, your family, and the neighbors on your street! For those without an alarm system, keep your car keys beside your bed so you can set your car alarm off in crisis situations. The more noise you create to draw attention, the better!! If you do not have a car, you can open your windows and turn incredibly loud music on (as loud as your system goes) to draw attention to your home. You can also get super loud (hand held) air horns!! They are inexpensive and can be left in key areas of your home. Hand held air horns are extremely LOUD which is exactly what you need.