Walk for peace while crime is down

Keely Dakin
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More than 170 people marched from the E.A. Rawlinson Centre to City Hall and back again on Friday morning. There they lowered a flag in memory of officers lost on the line.

For six years, members of the community have been coming together to celebrate peace in collaboration with National Police and Peace Officers Day, which is the last Sunday of September.

Elders and dignitaries gave their words in memory of law enforcement officers, and also urged the assembled to remember other community members who have been lost to violence. People proceeded inside the E.A. Rawlinson Centre after a moment of silence to hear the thoughts of a variety of dignitaries, a song from Jenna Aiken and lastly, a performance by the Queen Mary Community School Dance Troupe.

Police Chief Troy Cooper told the throng of people how their statistics show a marked decline in violence over the last year.

"Our over all violence is down 27 per cent, a 26 per cent reduction in sexual assault and 34 per cent reduction in common assault.”

This drop is extensive, said Cooper, due to initiatives taken over the last year. “We started analyzing our statistics, so we knew what was causing some of the offences.”

“For example with robberies, we knew most of our robberies where occurring where there were large groups of youth, they were crimes of opportunity.”

To counteract that, they changed their approach, making police officers and foot patrols more visible, especially downtown.

As for violent crimes, he touted the impact of the Community Mobilization Unit as an immediate as well as a long-term measure.

"Our over all violence is down 27 per cent, a 26 per cent reduction in sexual assault and 34 per cent reduction in common assault.” Police Chief Troy Cooper

“We also have a partnership with (the) Community for Mobilization Unit,” Cooper said.

“The big push with that is that we try to find the risks and address the risks before they become offences,” he said.

“We look for patterns, we look for patterns within the family.”

“We have an immediate impact when we deal with the families in crisis — right now.”

“We find out what is causing that crisis and we attack it now, so we don’t wait, we don’t sign them up for classes that are gonna happen weeks down the road. We intervene immediately,” Cooper said. “So that stops the downward spiral.”

“We need our community to be effective,” Cooper said. “We all benefit from the bonds that are formed when a community comes together.”

Saskatchewan Metis President Robert Doucette noted the difference he has seen since his youth, growing up in Prince Albert.

“We weren’t really known for being a very friendly place,” Doucette said.

“Now …  to walk with you and talk about peace and non-violence.”

Hal Zorn, with the Ministry of Justice, Corrections and Policing, completed his thoughts on peace as an ambition.

“We will probably never reach the panacea of no violence at all. But while it’s a lofty goal, it’s a very worthy goal to pursue, and we shouldn’t ever stop pursuing it.”

Organizations: E.A. Rawlinson Centre, Queen Mary Community School Dance Troupe, Ministry of Justice, Corrections and Policing

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Prince Albert

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