It’s been a little more than a month since the RCMP launched its Rural Crime Watch Notification system.
For the most part, it’s been as advertised. People can sign up to receive notifications from as many RCMP detachments as they want. Maybe it will just be the detachment that covers the area where they live, or the detachment where they used to live.
Maybe they have a really keen interest in what’s happening throughout the province, so they’ll sign up to receive notifications from every detachment. (Don’t get upset when you cell phone is sending you alerts every hour).
But when something happens, the RCMP sends out the notification to those who signed up to receive alerts.
In a couple of instances, those notifications have led to an arrest.
For the RCMP, they have nothing to lose with this arrangement. It doesn’t take long to collect the information and send it out to the public. If it leads to an arrest, then that’s great. If it doesn’t, it’s not from a lack of effort, and it keeps the public engaged with the police.
The biggest benefit is if there’s a series of crimes in an area within a relatively short period of time. The RCMP can notify the public that something has happened, that the public should take the necessary action to secure their yards, and that if they’ve seen anything suspicious, they should inform the police.
Most of the calls have been for break and enters, or for thefts. We expect that will continue to be the case. Now that spring is here, and people are out more, expect to see calls for vandalism.
We’ll see what kind of other notifications will be sent through this system.
Think of it like the police scanner for this day and age. The days of the police scanner, at least as we knew it, are virtually done. Concerns over privacy make it much more difficult for the average citizen to obtain a scanner.
But thanks to these notifications, the RCMP will email or text you a message to your computer or phone about a crime in your area, often within hours of it happening.
From a media perspective, it’s another tool that we have to help the RCMP notify the public when something has happened.
(We have yet to receive a notification from a detachment about an accident in the area. We’ll see if this system is used for accidents, or if the RCMP decides not to so they can avoid the gawkers).
Sure, there have been hiccups so far. We saw it late last month when the Carlyle RCMP sent out a notification about a break and enter and attempted theft of a vehicle at 6:30 a.m. from a garage in Forget. A few hours later, the RCMP had to send out a follow-up notice that the incident was unfounded. The suspect was a friend returning an item to a garage.
We all had a laugh about this error once it came to light, not because it was unfounded, but because of the circumstances. Let this be a lesson to not return an item to a garage at 6:30 a.m.
At the same time, the RCMP doesn’t always have the luxury of waiting. If they have legitimate reason to believe a crime has been committed, then it’s imperative they get the message out to the public promptly. The information they send out could help accelerate a resolution.
Chalk us up among those who believe the notification system has been a good idea thus far.