Saskatchewan city struggling with crime to fight back with neighbourhood watch
Published Thursday, October 24, 2013 9:14PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 24, 2013 11:18PM EDT
The residents of a small Saskatchewan community are teaming up with police to get gangs, drugs and guns off their streets.
North Battleford, a city of approximately 14,000 people northwest of Saskatoon, was ranked number one on Statistics Canada’s crime severity index in 2011.
The community has struggled with crime for years partly due to its large transient population, but the rate of violent incidents has surged over the past two-and-a-half months.
North Battleford has now seen everything from drive-by shootings and drug trafficking to murder and gang activity.
Residents are speaking out against the violence on Facebook and at community meetings. They want to establish a neighbourhood watch program to keep their children and loved ones safe.
A drug trade-related turf war has already prompted the local RCMP detachment to send more officers out on patrol.
“Our enforcement activities have stepped up,” said Sgt. Darcy Woolfitt. “And some of the people that have been involved with these groups have been charged, arrested and are in custody.”
One resident said there has been a lot of fear in town in recent months, “but we need to be part of the solution.”
Mayor Ian Hamilton said North Battleford is not in a state of panic, but acknowledged that there is a problem.
“The neighbourhood watch program in its own right is probably one of the most significant things that a community can do to lessen their risks,” he said.
Police said they’ve made more arrests in connection with recent crimes and are going to closely monitor suspects who are released from custody.
With a report from CTV Saskatoon’s Matt Young