The Saskatchewan RCMP insists it has made no decisions on future policing in the southwestern part of the province, despite a public meeting notice indicating a super-hub model is a possibility.
Rhetoric has heated up on social media after meeting notices went out regarding the policing model in the Cypress Region, which includes Leader, Maple Creek, Shaunavon, Gravelbourg, Morse, Ponteix and Swift Current rural.
Meetings were scheduled for Jan. 13-16 in these communities.
Residents have expressed outrage and concern that police services could be centralized in Swift Current.
But spokesperson Cpl. Rob King said there are no set options. RCMP simply want to know what the public thinks about policing in the region, he said, and the status quo could prevail.
“Closing detachments or a reduction of police services are not on the table,” he said in an interview. “That’s not an option.”
King said it was time for a review in the region and public input is sought to help RCMP determine how best to provide service.
“Are we providing the best policing service possible? Is there room for improvement? The only way to find that out is to talk to the people who are getting the service provided to them,” he said.
“We have this large geographical area. We have finite resources. How do we do it better?”
MNP has been hired to gather the information at the meetings and conduct the analysis. It will take at least six months for that to happen, King said. After that, RCMP will meet with the stakeholders and the public if changes are proposed.
He said people shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
“If it’s a 100-step process we’re on like step six,” he said.
Still, the meeting notice does list goals and objectives for the process and indicates centralization is under consideration.
It says in addition to analyzing the current policing situation and challenges, MNP will look at several other factors including:
Reviewing relevant research on existing policing models similar to the proposed super-hub policing model.
Assessing the viability of a super-hub policing concept for the Swift Current region using consultations and evidence-based research.
Identifying and recommending a specific super-hub policing model for the Swift Current region including an in-depth cost-benefit analysis and review of facilities, policies, procedures and results from extensive stakeholder consultations.
Developing a phased implementation plan, communication plan, and evaluation framework for the recommended Cypress Regional Detachment.
The review in this particular region is prompted by changing society and workforce demands, the notice said. The RCMP said there are challenges recruiting people to work in some areas because they need amenities for family and employment opportunities for spouses.
A new model would allocate the right number of officers to the right time and place, to provide optimal service, the notice said.