Local RCMP hold town hall meeting, more engagement sessions to come

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The Cochrane RCMP held a town hall meeting at the RancheHouse on April 27th and plan to hold more over the coming months as part of an effort to increase public engagement.

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“We were doing events like ‘Coffee With A Cop’ and stuff like that, and thanks to COVID, it really made it difficult,” noted Inspector Dave Brunner, who leads the Cochrane detachment.

“So these town halls are a chance for community members to come and sit down with the police and talk about policing.”

“You’ll definitely see one more, maybe two more this year…we want to start more community engagement, like that ‘Coffee With A Cop’ and foot and bike patrols and possibly getting into schools before the end of school. ”

Members of the local detachment spoke on a variety of topics during the evening event. Two prominent topics were mental health and domestic violence.

“Since COVID inflicted the country, we have seen an increase in mental health service calls and also domestic violence,” he said.

“It’s at the provincial or even national level that most police departments are probably seeing an increase in calls for service in mental health and also for domestic violence, because we generally see that as police officers. police when economies and things get tight and things are just kind of the unstable set in society. It’s sad, and we’re pulling together with all our resources to try and get people the help they need so they don’t end up in a cycle of domestic violence or (poor) mental health.

To this end, there is a “Regional Mental Health Team” which started working from the local detachment.

“I fought hard enough to make sure we got them,” said Insp. Brunner said.

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“We don’t ‘own’ them, we just house them here, but it’s a benefit to this community and to the area served by Cochrane Detachment.

This team’s role in the service will evolve as the detachment moves into the new protective services building under construction in Heartland.

“We are tight in this building, but when we get to the new building it will be fantastic, and they are already talking about expanding this service again and adding another person to it.”

The posse also spoke about the body cameras being tested across the service nationwide.

“They’ll be arriving at a detachment near you soon,” said Insp. Brunner.

“I think it’s something fantastic. Frontline workers will have them, they will record what is happening and there will be no argument or debate about what really happened in any given situation, because it is right there in front of us.

The detachment commander highlighted engagement with local youth as a key part of community policing.

“They are the future leaders of our community, and it’s good to have their perspective on policing,” he said.

“We don’t have all the answers, and sometimes when you engage our young people, we’re very surprised at some of the in-depth analysis they’ve done or are offering on problem solving. So it’s a perspective that we don’t always consider because sometimes as we get older we think we have all the answers, but sometimes our young people definitely have a different view.

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The Cochrane RCMP service area is particularly large. In addition to the city, members respond to calls in communities such as Mini Thni and Stoney Nakoda First Nations, Waiparous and the Ghost, Springbank and Bragg Creek area.

“When you look at all of what Cochrane has, it has so much to offer and it’s such a good community full of good people. I work with municipal governments and the Town of Cochrane, Rocky View County and Stoney Nakoda, and I’m so lucky because it’s so good to deal with each of these agencies,” said Insp. Brunner.

“I’ve been posted to ten different posts in two different provinces, and Cochrane is by far the best post and the best place I’ve ever lived…As a resident, I want the best policing I can do and to have.

During a follow-up interview at the detachment, he gestured to the main work floor, which was significantly more crowded than the Law & Order or Brooklyn Nine-Nine. There will be more room to work when the new Protective Services building opens in about a year.

“We have outgrown this building we are in and are really looking forward to moving and entering this new building,” the detachment commander said.

“It will be an RCMP detachment, but there will be a meeting room up front and we can have all kinds of meetings. We will be holding town halls, citizens on patrol or whatever can come in and use this facility because we don’t want it to be just a building: we want it to be something the community can use and feel proud that we ‘We are here and we are in this building.

The town halls come as the provincial government plans to replace the RCMP in Alberta with a provincial police force.

“For ninety years the RCMP has been policing Alberta and in those ninety years we have learned some things and the tricks of the trade,” said Insp. Brunner.

“We’re pretty proud of the work we do and have done, and until that changes, if that changes, we’re always going to do one hundred and ten percent of our best for the citizens we serve here in Alberta.

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