The Saskatchewan creator of a Facebook page designed to share information about rural crime says he welcomes a new alert system from the RCMP and provincial government.
Nick Cornea, who established Farmers Against Rural Crime, said he was part of the committee helping to design the Saskatchewan Crime Watch Advisory Network.
“It’s going to be awesome,” he said after the network launch earlier this month.
Residents can sign up for the network online or through an app on their phones to get information about crimes that have occurred.
An alert may include what happened and a vehicle to watch for, as well as instructions to contact police.
Subscribers to the free service choose how to receive notifications, by text, email or text-to-voice on their landlines, and from which detachments they want information.
The network is only available in the RCMP’s southern district for now. If it is successful it will be expanded, said RCMP commanding officer Mark Fisher.
The province spent $50,000 on 25,000 subscriptions to the service. The evaluation period will last 18 months.
Cornea said he believes it will be a success as long as the individual detachments push the information out to residents.
The alerts will come quicker than the more traditional route of writing and issuing news releases to media for dissemination.
Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities president Ray Orb said he didn’t have any concerns that people would use the network to engage in vigilantism.
“We would be appalled if that would happen,” he said.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations vice-chief Dutch Lerat said he had no concerns about that right now but time would tell.
Fisher said there will be a way to remove such users from the system if that happens.
“I have a lot of confidence in the people of Saskatchewan and the way that they’ll respond to being involved in crime and safety in their community,” he said.
The province’s minister of corrections and policing, Christine Tell, said this initiative is a direct response to the government’s goal of reducing rural crime.
The RCMP has said people have to report crimes if they are victims or aware of a crime that has occurred.
“We need to know about it if we’re going to address it, and we need to know about it so that we can be well aware of the trends or changes in trends,” Fisher said.
Gun violence continues to be an issue in some northern communities. Drugs are driving property crimes across Western Canada, he said.
To sign up for the network, links are available at sarm.ca or suma.org, or https://member.everbridge.net/index/453003085619333#/login.