The City of Moose Jaw’s City Manager, Jim Puffalt brought forward a four-week pilot program to the city council on Monday night to try and increase patrols in the downtown area of Moose Jaw between the hours of 8:00 pm. to 4:00 a.m.
Puffalt says that there has been a marked increase in unsettling incidents with people at city facilities, parks, green spaces, and areas that the Moose Jaw Police Service patrols.
“This could take a lot of pressure off the police, provide some enhanced sense of security for people, would be increase patrol in those areas, from that time period,” says Puffalt.
Currently, the city has Commissionaires in some of those areas assisting with traffic control, along with the MJPS patrolling regularly.
This sort of program was piloted in North Battleford in 2015/2016 as part of the Saskatchewan Community Safety Program. It was created because of similar high-risk/high-priority incidents in North Battleford.
“Enhanced patrol was part of that program. To have marked vehicles, and uniformed people out and patrolling and working in conjunction with the RCMP in that instance.”
The city manager wanted to stress that these patrollers are not police officers, their role is strictly observational.
“They should not be engaging with high-risk type clients and customers. In that case, again it’s surveillance, it is patrol only, is it not to engage with people. Obviously, if something was occurring and if people were feeling unsafe the Commissionaires would have a standard procedure that would be defined by the MJPS on how to manage those affairs while protecting the interest of the people in the area.”
The overall goal of the program is #1 to increase patrols overnight, but also to gather data on what types of things are occurring, when they are, and where those occurrences are taking place.
“Some of the data we’re trying to get is times and calls. To reduce calls for service for the MJPS, and reduce citizen and staff requests for assistance.”
The MJPS would provide logistical support, training, vehicles, and radio equipment at their cost. The patrollers will work in pairs in a marked vehicle and with the necessary equipment provided by the MJPS.
According to Puffalt, the overall cost for this pilot program is $12,000, which would be provided from the existing budget for Commissionaires and the city manager’s special initiatives budget.
They say that if it is to be approved by the city council at their next meeting on Oct. 11, then it would take roughly three to four weeks for Commissionaires to recruit the necessary staff along with training. Their hope is to have the program up and running by early November.
Councilor Crystal Froese supports the program and says that it would be a good idea to invite the MJPS Chief, Rick Bourassa to the next council meeting to explain further the training that is required for these patrol officers.
A concern brought forward by Councilor Eby, with this new patrol was, if they were going to remove the Commissionaires out of the library, as she saw that area as a particular concern.
“That would not be our intent. Our intent would be to work on that together. For example, if we had people there from 7-8 p.m., that day we would run from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. to make sure the coverage is still there,” explains Puffalt.
The next Moose Jaw city council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 11.