Battling crime requires teamwork between police and residents, says Western District RCMP CO

by | Dec 22, 2023

Richmond Corner open house showcases positive discussion between police leadership and community they serve

Residents are the police officers’ “eyes and ears” in their respective communities, said Sgt. Dan Sharpe, commanding officer of the Western Valley RCMP Region, during an open house at the Richmond Community Centre on Wednesday, Dec. 20.

“Report what you see,” Sharpe told the approximately 60 residents on hand for the positive open discussion focused on ways to mitigate crime in their area.

Sharpe said police forces rely heavily on public information.

“We’re an intelligence-driven organization,” he said.

RCMP members, Cpl James Gallant, Cpl. Kalvin Hanscomb and Cst. Carson Kennedy joined Sharp for the public meeting.

Others at the head table included Richmond Corner residents Chris Foster, who served as host, and Gerald Williams. Woodstock councillors Mike Martin, whose Ward 1 includes Richmond Corner, and Will Belyea, whose Ward 2 borders the community,

Foster described the Richmond Corner meeting as an extension of the police open house on Dec. 11 hosted by Woodstock Mayor Trina Jones, featuring Sharpe and Woodstock Police Force Chief Gary Forward.

In response to the large attendance of Ward 1 residents at the Dec 11 meeting, Foster explained Sharpe agreed to participate in a follow-up meeting with the concerned residents.

The RCMP provides police coverage in Wards 1, 2, 3 and 5, while the Woodstock Police Force handles policing in Ward 4, the former Woodstock town boundaries.

Foster and several fellow Richmond Corner and surrounding area residents took the first steps to establish a Neighbourhood Watch program. He explained residents expressed concern about the level of petty crime in the community.

“Everyone can rattle off something amiss on their property or a neighbour’s property,” he said.

Sharpe said the force supports the Neighbourhood Watch initiative but stressed such programs are “community-led.” He explained the RCMP would provide information and guidance.

Sharpe said the RCMP would provide an officer to work as a liaison with the group, while the group should choose watch captains to compile information and stats to report to the police.

He said anyone can report suspicious activity or potential crimes in progress, noting they should call 911 in an emergency or 506-325-3000 in a non-emergency. People can also provide information on the RCMP-New Brunswick website.

Sharpe also emphasized the importance of providing as detailed information as possible, noting descriptions of what suspects are wearing, the colour, model and licence plate of vehicles and the time and place to help police investigate officers.

He explained that, for example, a description of the car or even the suspect’s clothes could provide “just enough” probable cause to stop or search a vehicle.

Sharpe added no detail is too small, noting it could be the piece police need to combine with other information to lay charges.

While acknowledging Richmond Corner residents’ concern about the level of crime in their area, Sharpe said his detachment’s call records don’t reflect the area’s crime rates. He explained police use those records to determine a response.

“If I see volumes going up, I will direct our officers accordingly,” he said.

While most of the evening’s discussion remained positive, a few residents complained about difficulties reaching the RCMP and slow or no response.

Sharpe gathered the information and promised to follow up.

He explained any report to the RCMP is registered and provided a file number. He urged anyone making a report to get the file number, which would help follow up later.

The evening’s discussion included ways residents could better protect themselves and their property.

Sharpe explained most thefts or damage are crimes of opportunity. He explained the importance of good lights illuminating the yard and not making it easy for potential criminals to see the house is empty.

He also suggested residents be wary of providing too much information on social media, noting that would-be criminals take note of people’s travel plans or other details, making their property an easy target.

Cpl. Gallant said installing cameras on your property can provide vital information for investigators.

“Most cameras are not expensive and well worth the investment,” he said.

He also suggested the placement of Apple Air Tags on equipment can show the location of stolen property.

Gallant urged everyone to take photos of serial numbers or uniquely distinguishable markings on their property to make it easy to claim if recovered by police.

He noted the police often recover equipment, tools or other items, but it is almost impossible to identify the owner.

Foster said the efforts to finalize the formation of a Neighbourhood Watch will begin in January.

During the meeting, he said the Facebook page set up to track suspicious activity has garnered significant interest but has become a means for community discussion.

While he welcomes the open discussion, he said they need a site dedicated only to reports of questionable or potentially criminal activities in the area. 

A common opinion throughout the open house centred on the importance of knowing your neighbours.

Sharpe agreed, saying vetting those on the watch group is crucial.

Coun. Martin praised the meeting and the efforts of police and his constituents to work together to tackle crime. He and Coun. Belyea agreed their constituents want police to be visible in their communities.

Sharpe said police visibility is a common concern in most communities. He praised the Richmond Corner meetings, saying he hopes to hold similar meetings in other communities, such as Canterbury, Hartland, or elsewhere.

Approximately 60 people attended the policing meeting in Richmond Corner. (Jimi Djumville photo)

Sgt. Dan Sharpe talks with community residents following the Richmond Corner Community Centre meeting. (Jim Dumville photo)

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