RCMP working to reduce northern crime rate
Published Wednesday, November 21, 2012 5:57PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 21, 2012 6:59PM CST
RCMP say Manitoba’s north experiences twice as much violent crime as the rest of the province.
Chief Garrison Settee says his community of Cross Lake is no exception.
“A need for law and order in our community because of being in the situation that we're in,” said Settee. “We have 85 per cent unemployment. There's going to be social problems.”
Settee says 7,000 people live on reserve, most are unemployed and nearly half are under the age of 25. He says many people struggle with addictions, a problem across the north.
Fewer people live in the north than in east or western Manitoba, still police say it accounts for nearly three quarters of the crime reported to the RCMP.
To tackle the problem, the Crime Reduction Enforcement Support Team (CREST) was created a year and a half ago to keep tabs on chronic offenders
“If you're on a curfew to be home at 10 o’clock we're going to make sure that you're home,” said Sgt. Ben Sewell, who is with CREST. “If you're not home then you're going to jail and that's proven to reduce crime.”
Sgt. Sewell says the strategy works because it keeps offenders accountable.
The Army Cadet program was introduced to the town of Cross Lake six years ago to give young people something positive to do. Since then, 300 youth have graduated from it.
“Rather than just complaining, lets do something and lets do something for the young people,” Bob Smith, who is mayor of Cross Lake.
To further improve safety on the first nation, chief and council is working with police to create its own citizens on patrol program. There are 65 similar programs up and running around the province, three are in the north.