RCMP promises improved visibility in Nackawic-Millville

by | Feb 8, 2024

Mountie brass promise increased use of Nackawic detachment and officers living in the community

RCMP officers should soon be living in the two available homes in Nackawic, and the rural community can expect more significant use of the Nackawic detachment.

At the invitation of the Nackawic-Millville council, Sgt. André Lauzon of the West District RCMP Nackawic Department and West District Staff Sgt. Jeff Peters attended the Feb. 5 council meeting to respond to several community concerns about police coverage.

Mayor Tim Fox thanked the RCMP officers for attending, noting police visibility and response time remain an ongoing concern for Nackawic-Millville residents.

Peters acknowledged those concerns, noting they are common throughout the district.

“Every meeting we hear the same concerns,” he said.

Peters and Lauzon said the situation is improving, noting more staff “is coming’ to the RSC 11 region.

Peters pointed to the province’s recent decision to add 50 frontline RCMP officers, adding the RSC 11 region “did well” in the disbursement of those positions.

“We have more staff coming,” Lauzon explained.

Peters explained the current problem is getting bodies to fill those open positions.

“On paper, we’re looking good,” he said. “It’s a case of getting those positions filled.”

Peters, along with RCMP Supt. Andrew LeClair addressed the Nackawic-Millville council in September. A catalyst leading to the most recent invitation was a letter from a single mother outlining the police’s slow response to a frightening  4:30 a.m. incident at her home on Jan. 2.

“I was awakened by someone screaming and banging on my door,” the mother wrote. “This person was not looking for help, and from what I understood from what they were screaming, they intended harm or a fight,”

While trying to console one frightened child and wake the younger sibling, the scared mother called 9-1-1.

She said it took approximately 30 minutes for the RCMP to arrive, by which time the scary individual left her property.

“The concern I have is it should not take 30 minutes to get to my property when we have a vacant RCMP building with no RCMP officers to protect our town,” the mother said.

Lauzon said he understands the mother’s concern, noting calls involving home invasions, threatening circumstances, and dangerous situations get a priority response.

He said this occurred during another serious incident in the Nackawic area, requiring a team to respond from Keswick.

Lauzon explained each detachment in Nackawic, Keswick, and Minto has at least one team assigned at all times. He noted, however, that a significant incident somewhere in the large district could require officers to leave designated areas to assist.

He explained the RCMP uses the Nackawic detachment regularly.

During the September briefing to the Nackawic-Millville council, Supt. LeClair said the Nackawic detachment would be home to the district’s Crime Reduction Unit.

Lauzon said the detachment, which sits next door to the Nackawic-Millville town hall and fire station, is often occupied. Still, he noted officers frequently wear plain clothes and use unmarked vehicles.

In response to CAO Kathryn Clark’s and several councillors’ questions, Peters confirmed officers and their families would soon move into the two long-unoccupied RCMP-owned homes in Nackawic.

He expects both homes to be occupied by the end of March.

Citing the frightening experience of the Nackawic mother and other incidents, Coun. Katie Nozzoliillo asked Lauzon and Peters what homeowners should do when threatened.

“Keep yourself safe,” explained Peters. “Get to a safe part of the house.”

“Don’t engage is important,” added Lauzon. “Grabbing a baseball bat is not a good idea.

He said physical encounters often end up with the homeowner getting hurt, adding it’s a “very fine line” between self-defence and facing possible criminal charges themselves. He said the law allows only “reasonable” force to protect themselves or their property.

Peters cited as an example a woman using a weapon against an intruder to defend herself and a large, angry homeowner seriously beating or shooting a young teenage thief.

“A lot of people are watching too much American tv,” he said.

Mayor Fox asked the visiting RCMP officers whether the council could play a role in improving policing in the community, suggesting they could perhaps lobby the government.

Peters said lobbying worked in the past to get the government to enhance legislation surrounding violent offenders and guns.

While acknowledging frustration with the justice system, Peters said the courts face their own challenges. He said he would like to see more emphasis on property crime, which he tied to drug use.

Using the recent increase in copper theft as an example, he said the accused faces only theft under $5,000, but the damage they cause could cost multiple thousands to repair.

Lauzon and Peters also stressed the importance of reporting crimes and suspicious activities, noting the force using those reports to schedule patrols.

They also encourage property owners to take photos and record serial numbers and distinguishing marks to help identify stolen items. They explained that it helps to lay charges and ensure the return of recovered property.

Peters and Lauzon agreed the town could help the RCMP recruitment efforts by spreading the word about career opportunities and changes in the force’s policies.

Unlike the past, they explained, the RCMP allows new recruits to return to areas near their home.

A few members of the public attended the Feb. 5 council meeting. After their presentation, they had an opportunity to talk directly with Lauzon and Peters.

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