If the only contact you’ve had with the police has come in a time of high stress or at the wrong end of a traffic ticket, you may have no idea what that officer is doing the rest of the week.
That’s how negative perceptions start and the Sidney North Saanich RCMP is turning to a new community committee to help change that.
In the wake of recent cases of police-involved shootings in the U.S. and the subsequent backlash against police, the local RCMP detachment put together the idea for a committee to enhance — or even just start — a dialogue with the people they serve.
Relations between the RCMP and citizens of Sidney and North Saanich are, for the most part, markedly different than what we see on TV. Yet, for any police force to function well, there has to be some level of trust — trust that people will turn to them when they have to, and trust that the police will listen and respond and treat people with respect.
Police forces in most communities have a finite amount of resources and cannot be everywhere at once — a fact those who do wrong count on.
That’s where a community group, dedicated to two-way communication with police, should be able to help. It’s not the end-all when if comes to public-police interaction, but a solid step to ensure the RCMP is focusing their efforts where it’s needed the most.
The RCMP is hoping there will be a trickle-down effect from this committee. By sharing how they operate with the community and responding to concerns at a higher level, it’s thought that these group members will talk to friends and family.
It’s not going to cause overnight change in relationships between the community and the RCMP, but it’s a step in the right direction.