Recent History – 2000
Oct. 12, 2000
DAWSON CREEK — The concept of community policing truly has transformed the way the RCMP fights crime, Dawson Creek’s Staff Sgt. Gerry Falk said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Rotary Club’s luncheon, Falk said the biggest change has been that the Dawson Creek detachment can make policing decisions on its own.
“Now it’s, if it’s gonna help the community, we do it,” Falk said. “We don’t need anybody’s blessing.”
Well, actually, he added jokingly, “Now we can do it and talk about it. Before, we did it and didn’t tell Vancouver what we were doing.”
Community policing means the RCMP can count increasingly on the help of the public, both through improved communication through the media and through volunteers in the many crime prevention groups.
One aspect of community policing that has proven fruitful, Falk said, has been Business Watch, essentially a network of participating businesses that has given store owners the ability to quickly notify police and other businesses when something happens in their store.
The program played a huge role in the apprehension of two alleged counterfeiters who passed fake $100 bills at various Dawson Creek stores last month.
At a similar speech at the chamber of commerce luncheon last week, Falk joked about the fact the chase for the suspects damaged a police car and a boat parked in someone’s driveway.
“It’s the first high-speed chase where we lost a car and a boat.”
Business Watch also helped solve a case of credit card fraud earlier this year.
“The community starts to pull together and our phones don’t stop ringing Ñ it’s tremendous,” Falk said.
Other programs that have resulted in less crime in the community are the community justice program and the police-based victim services, both focusing more on the victims than ever before.
“We’re no longer pre-occupied with the rights of criminals,” Falk said. “The pendulum is swinging back to the law-abiding, taxpaying member of the community.”
Rotarians also heard from several other crime prevention groups, like Block Parents, a program that provides safe havens for anyone who feels threatened on the street; Speedwatch, a program that aims to increase the level of awareness among the city’s motorists about their speed and dangerous driving; Citizens on Patrol, formerly called the Vandal Watch, where citizens patrol city streets and report suspicious activities to the RCMP through two-way radios; Crime Stoppers, a program that provides a way for citizens to report crimes anonymously; and Rural Crime Watch, similar to Citizens on Patrol but patrolling rural areas.
Community Policing Officer, Const. Geri Demyen, who replaced Const. Russ Greer two months ago, oversees most of these programs.
Demyen told Rotarians the reason for the presentation Tuesday was two-fold: the RCMP wants Dawson Creek residents to have an idea of what these groups do, and none of these groups can function properly without enough volunteers, of which there are too few.
“I, as a police officer, can not get my job done without public participation,” Demyen said, adding that since becoming responsible for community policing, he has discovered that a large part of public participation is provided by volunteers.
“By volunteering, you’re helping your community Dawson Creek Ñ our community Dawson Creek — become a better place to live in,” he said.
Anyone interested in helping with any of the crime prevention programs can contact Const. Geri Demyen at 784-3700.