The Carnduff RCMP detachment keeps navigating through the pandemic and serving the community.
Detachment commander Sgt. Warner Ignatiuk said that most of their work was in line with how it's always been before COVID-19 hit the province last March.
"It's been, by and large, a good year. I would say things are subdued a little bit in the sense that there's a little bit less traffic volume and less people being out and about, but I think that's expected and has been seen a little bit everywhere. And then sometimes it'll come in surges as some of our public health regulations are ever-changing," Ignatiuk said.
He noted that when the health measures were stricter, there were fewer people outside and thus less activity for the RCMP in the sense of crime. However, with the pandemic came some new duties that the Carnduff RCMP members performed over the past year.
"Like many RCMP detachments and police services, we received quite a number of updates from public health, when people were returning from out of the country and then were required to self-isolate for a prescribed period of time, usually 14 days. So they would notify us and those cases are then prioritized and automatically trigger us to go do checks to make sure people are being compliant," Ignatiuk said.
He added that the Carnduff RCMP treated these cases as an opportunity to check if people who just returned from abroad and may not have family close by needed any help, rather than enforcement.
They did have some calls related to COVID-19 public health measures, but Ignatiuk said there was nothing out of ordinary.
"We've been quite fortunate for our detachment area where we haven't had many issues. Of course, we had occasional situations that we've had to address, but nothing that caused extra concerns or anything where we weren't able to gain compliance out of people. The really important thing that we tried to get stressed is that we're educating people and trying to help people understand better the purposes of some of those regulations and that if everybody does their part eventually, over the course of time people will start returning to the old normal way of doing things," Ignatiuk said.
The situation in the area resonated with the changes brought in by the pandemic. One major change that they've noticed was the reduction in property crimes, which can be attributed to people spending more time around their houses. Many switched to working from home, some were out of work, and most people were not travelling much over the past year and rather spending time on their property.
Ignatiuk also noted that some areas of the province have seen an increase in domestic conflicts and violence, but the Carnduff RCMP hasn't encountered an increase in this kind of crime.
While opportunities for community engagement were very limited, the Carnduff RCMP was still able to interact with the town and area. However, most of the communication was done over phone or email, and the in-person meetings had to become more co-ordinated and done in a safe way following all public health measures.
"We're quite fortunate in the Carnduff area that our community is very pro-police and they're not opposed to us stopping by. So we've been able to do (some community engagement), just not quite with the same freedom as we'd like," Ignatiuk said.
They are looking forward to times when they'll be able to have more community leaders working together with the police force to address all the existing concerns. But in the meantime, they're working under the existing regulations and keeping meeting sizes to minimal.
The Saskatchewan Crime Watch Advisory network served as another tool to engage with the community. The Carnduff RCMP hasn't had any cases in which they solved a crime with its help, but Ignatiuk said the system still proved to be very useful.
"I think it's a fantastic resource … I use the platform to keep the community up to date and engaged. But I also use it to always keep encouraging community members to be watchful and mindful of what's going on in their communities … The things that smell bad and look bad are probably bad. So if they come across those things, it's important to report them even if there's no crime in progress. If there's someone there or vehicle in a location that it doesn't belong in, report that anyway, because sometimes what's odd today can be tomorrow's clue to solve (a crime) if something, unfortunately, does occur," Ignatiuk explained.