Archive for ◊ December, 2008 ◊

24 Dec 2008 All the best of the season
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I know that this can be a stressful time of year but it is important to step back and remember why we stop to celebrate the birth of a child that happened a long time ago.

At this time of year we need our families and friends to support us through our different adventures as we get together to laugh, cry, tell stories and just spend time.

We are fortunate to have our daughter home for Christmas and will be spending our first with our new grandson.  Yup life sure looks good!

Council too has taken a break, and I look forward to addressing all the issues in the new year.

Stay warm.

Jac

07 Dec 2008 My thoughts on the Policing situation in Steinbach
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At the December 2nd council meeting we accepted a petition forwarded by our MLA Kelvin Goertzen regarding the need for more policing in Steinbach.  I support the petition but do have issues that need addressing as part of adding RCMP to our detachment.

Here are some of my comments I made at council

·        Generally a petition of this nature is presented to council by it’s author or author’s, interesting that it was simply forwarded through our MLA, it means that we can’t ask questions to confirm statements made

·        It should be noted that policing in Steinbach is a City responsibility which choose to contract to the RCMP, in the past we have had a private police force but changed to RCMP contract sometime in the 70′s

·        approximately 20% of the individuals who signed are not Steinbach residence

·        the comment that Stbh has less police officers per capita than other similar sized cities is interesting as few people know that or understand that statement, both Portage and Thompson our closest in size have demographic and geographic issues they need to deal with that are not at issue in Stbh, that is one way to measure the requirements, other ways include by case load or overtime requirements

·        I too am concerned about the increase in the drug situation and property crimes in Stbh, and have meet with various citizens to understand this issue

·        The D.A.R.E. program is a program initiated by the RCMP, it is a good program that should be continued, at issue is that it requires a member to volunteer and then needs to be trained to deliver the program, and is one of D divisions priorities

·        A question that should be asked as part of the petition and seldom is should Steinbach Taxes go up to support an increase in RCMP staffing

 

Further

·        September 2nd council meeting the Staff Sergeant of our local detachment appeared before council for his 6 month report, and this report is available on the City of Steinbach web site

·        Two issues where addressed in his report, more vandalism was reported at the skate park and someone had exposed themselves

·        staffing was not addressed in his report

·        During questioning we were told that the new officer was in place since April bringing our complement to 11 officers

·        We were told that the RCMP were running with 4 surplus staff between the rural and municipal detachments, meaning that Steinbach actually was very fortunate because we enjoyed an increase of 2 or 3 officers over the last 6 months to a year

·        He spoke of the COPP (Citizen’s on Patrol Program) that was just starting to get underway with it’s first public meeting and the Reader program that we approved at the July 2nd meeting had yet to began.

·        When asked about the crime rate in Steinbach, the response was that it is similar to past years, with the majority of crimes being of a minor nature

·        So what has changed so suddenly that this needs to be addressed through a petition instead of using existing processes

o       we are a growing community and as part of our growth we need to provide an adequate police presence

o       My understanding is that last year we agreed to review the policing issue on a year to year basis, and that hasn’t changed. The policing discussion is part of our winter planning session, and I look forward to that discussion

o       We can add more officers, even 3 as suggested, but further questions need to be answered, can our detachment handle 3 more officers within current building space and vehicle use or is this a further cost that needs to be looked at 

o       How can we, as a community, hold our local detachment more accountable so we have an understanding of what their constraints are

o       Bottom line is with the increase in growth over the years we do need to provide adequate policing in our community

o       As with other organizations that Steinbach is funding, it would be appropriate for council to review a monthly summary report provided to our city manager by our staff sergeant so we can bring more awareness to council and further our community

While those were my comments at council a report from our City Manager filed at that council meeting did provide more details.  The cost of one officer is approximately $88,000/year so three officers would cost us an additional $264,000/yr.  It will be an interesting debate at our winter study session.