Often with only two items on the agenda for the public meetings, one Regina woman thinks the Board of Police Commissioners needs to be more open.
Florence Stratton voiced her opinion at the board meeting Wednesday morning. She said she’s been attending the meetings for a year and often there are only two items on the agenda – the latest crime statistics and letters of appreciation for the police.
“It makes the board into a cheerleading team for the police and it is, according to its mandate, it’s supposed to be an oversight body and certainly that involves praise on one hand, but certainly there needs to be an opening for criticism,” said Stratton.
She compared the Regina board to the one in Saskatoon, saying in the bridge city they often discuss other things like bullying, police use of force, and street checks.
This was Evan Bray’s first Board of Police Commissioner’s meeting in his new position as chief, and he was open to the idea of bringing more into the public meeting.
“A lot of the reporting that has been suggested we could bring to this meeting, we do anyway. We do a lot of annual reports on different areas of our service and different types of oversight that is provided. So, I’m happy to provide those to the public on a more regular basis and I think, starting in January, you’ll see some more additions to the public side of the board of police commissioner meetings.”
Bray said there’s no reason not bring more reports into the public meeting.
“That’s the benefit of these meetings, so the more information we can get out I think the more two-way communication we have with, essentially the public and the citizens of Regina, that makes us a better service.”
Mayor Michael Fougere disagrees with the characterization of the board as a “cheerleader” for the police, and he said there are often more than just two items on the agenda.
“There are forums for it, and so I would say we’re not going as far as others would like but we are not at base zero either. We actually do have many others reports that do come to the commission,” said Fougere.
The mayor did seem open to there being more involved in the public meeting, saying the question is how they can add more rigor to the meetings.
Certain crimes continue to climb in Regina, according to statistics released by police Wednesday.
Things like break and enter to businesses, theft over $5,000, robbery, and theft of auto were up in September as compared to September 2015.
Bray explained these rising crimes as an effect of crystal meth use.
“Things like theft of autos, break and enters, robberies, and even assaults are all showing a high trend because of the influence that this drug is having in our community.”
Mayor Michael Fougere had the same comment.
“The kind of drugs being used, crystal meth, creates a whole different dynamic of one who’s addicted, looking to continue the addiction and looking for ways to do that, that’s through crime – and it’s not necessarily by fist or by knife, it’s through guns now.”
Both Bray and Fougere said this is something communities across the country have to deal with.
Bray also talked about the rise in the use of weapons in Regina – both guns and knives. He said there was a decrease in assaults, but an increase in attempted murder because people are using weapons instead of fists.