It didn’t take long for a meeting between residents and the RCMP to boil over with frustration on Wednesday afternoon.
The police announced last week that they would hold a ‘Coffee with a Cop’ event at the Blue Moose Coffee House, and that residents could bring their concerns and learn more about local policing. The room set aside for the event quickly filled beyond capacity, and spilled out into the main area of the restaurant as residents vented their frustrations to various RCMP members.
Within just five minutes of the meeting starting, multiple conversations broke out and it became impossible for the audience to hear beyond the din. Some people left the meeting at that point, realizing the venue would not facilitate the type of meeting they were expecting.
The Standard attended the meeting in hopes of hearing various concerns from residents.
Teresa Walker, owner of Heaven N Earth Native Art, has a pressing concern. She has been the target of theft recently, as she says many people have. As the town gears up for the Chainsaw Carving Competition, she is worried the RCMP isn’t planning to provide a presence at the event. She will be bringing items from her shop to the park area for a First Nations exhibition on site.
“I’m expecting trouble,” she told The Standard. “I may have to sleep in my tent.”
She is also going to be hiring private security to ensure that there are always eyes on the park. She says she doesn’t have faith that the police will provide enough security, as the park has become a place for homeless and drug users to converge without RCMP intervention.
Another woman who didn’t provide her name said she is new to town, and is certain that the growth seen in many B.C. communities of open drug use and mental health issues, combined with homelessness, is because of a lack of resources available.
“There is a lack of facilities and it’s causing everyone to suffer,” she said.
Walker noted that several people have complained of having large tools, including power saws, stolen recently.
“They’re going into people’s houses,” she says.
Others raised concerns that because they are not seeing reports from the RCMP in this newspaper that the police are doing nothing about crime. RCMP media relations office Cpl. Mike Rail was in attendance and told the crowd it’s not up to the RCMP to report convictions to the public.
However, many RCMP detachments do provide their local newspaper with a list of criminal activity in an area on a regular basis, including crime trends and isolated incidents to help with their investigations. The Hope detachment has not provided that information to The Standard on a regular basis for more than five years.
A recent release of crime statistics show that crime rose in 2018 over 2017, while convictions for crimes lowered as part of a continuing, five-year trend.
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