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CONTRIBUTION · 11th September 2013
Phil Harrison
I am writing in regards to the general perception of certain members of the Kitimat community that crime is running amok in this town. Let me assure you, it is not. The only thing running amok in Kitimat is the rumour mill. Facebook is not the be all and end all and items posted to Internet sites such as Facebook must be taken with a grain of salt. Regular reporters of the media are required to meet a certain standard while those posting items on Facebook and similar sites, have no such restrictions or standards. Therefore one needs to exercise caution when reading items posted to such sites.

One advantage that Facebook and similar sites have over other printed news is that it is almost instantaneous. This means that erroneous "news" can be sent out just as quickly as correct "news". Those in traditional news forums such as TV and newspaper generally check out their stories before printing or airing them. Facebook and similar sites do not.

There is a perception that police do not let people know what is happening in Kitimat. There are a number of reasons for that including, to some extent, privacy laws, the Youth Criminal Justice Act which forbids us to publish or otherwise identify any young person involved, and active criminal investigations where as a general rule, we do not want the bad guys to know what we know while investigating an incident. If and when police need assistance from the public regarding a particular case it is generally because they have exhausted all leads and hope that by releasing some information it will generate new leads to follow. You can be assured that if during the course of an investigation information came to light that there was a danger to someone in particular or to the general public outside the norm, that we would be notifying the person or the general public of the danger.

I or someone from my office attends Council Meetings once a month to present Council with the crime statistics for the month. I believe that they are also published on the Town's website. I have compared them to other towns of similar size and note that we are either the same or lower in terms of criminal statistics. They are however rising, and that is to be expected as the town increases in population but they are rising proportionally, not out of control. And contrary to popular belief, the majority of crime are not being committed by the workers in the camp but by persons in the community. I would not be concerned for the safety of my daughter if she chose to walk around Kitimat, day or night and several Detachment members have said the same thing to me about their families.

As there appears to be a need or a want by the general public for more timely information, I am planning, once consultation with members of the local media occurs and attaining full resources once more, to institute a weekly report consisting of a quick summary of events or calls that the police respond to. I have done this at other Detachments I have commanded and it was well received by the public in those jurisdictions. I hope to have it in place by November this year and expect that it will be just as well received here.

In conclusion, Kitimat is a beautiful town with a low crime rate compared to other towns. Does it have it's ugly moments? Yes, but no more than any other town. I am proud of the hard work the Kitimat Detachment members do in keeping the Town safe and the crime rate as low as it is. All I ask is that you take a moment to know where your information is coming from before you consider it the truth. Otherwise, the rumour mill just keeps going on and on.

Regards,

Phil Harrison, S/Sgt.
NCO In Charge
Kitimat RCMP Detachment
Re. RCMP sympathizer
Comment by Apocalypse Now on 18th September 2013
We are mad at the people that commit these crimes, but if the police can't handle the situation what is a private citizen to do? Would you prefer we take the situation in to our own hands? Vigilantiism is not the solution, but having the police deny things are not worse does a disservice to the detachment. More officers are definitely need. The only time i see a cop is 5 am in the morning when I am driving to work trying to catch someone speeding to work.
With more camps opening up we need a bigger police presence.
Let's look at it his way
Comment by RCMP sympathizer on 16th September 2013
It makes me sad that these things are happening in Kitimat, but I don't believe that it's a new problem. There has always and (sadly) will always be incidences of assault and rape in Kitimat. I do NOT think the police department is not trying to hide things from us. The RCMP is limited in what they can do by law and by manpower. They're doing their best to keep us safe and we need to be more supportive.
The sergeant's letter is 100% defensive, people in town have been questioning the RCMP and their efforts when they should be supporting them.
We should be mad about the bad things that are occurring in our town. So let's get mad at the people who are responsible for them, not at those who are trying to protect us.
Afraid to walk the side walks
Comment by Paula on 15th September 2013
I have lived in kitimat my whole life and never remember being so afraid to walk alone at dusk. While those guys that attacked the young girl by three hill park are still out and at it. Just heard anther lady has been beaten and raped while she was jogging below shell gas station this week, same description of the guys who attacked the young girl. I was at a backyard party yesterday and a lady there said she was walking her dog by coho flats and was approached by 6 guys again with the same description as the guys that attacked the young girl. Bald guy with others in black hoodies all around 25 years old. If it wasn't for the German Shepard she would have been in trouble.
To me this is serious we have predictors out there and for those of us who have lived in this peaceful town our whole life, it is A big deal and we need to know what is being done to catch these guys.
A Suggestion
Comment by KitimatKid on 15th September 2013
Maybe a portion of the industrial tax money coming into the District should be spent towards a private security company to supplement the RCMP ? Having the extra security during the night would most defintely be a step in the right direction and would be a prescence in the town. Foot patrols by two or more security guards in high risk areas as well as random vehicle partrols would serve as a deterent. And maybe it should be mandatory for all new industries setting up in town to provide money/personnel for this purpose...
I agree with all the coments.
Comment by Larry Walker on 15th September 2013
And would like to add a couple of points...when we first moved here (3 years ago), I made a point of visiting the RCMP office and requesting info on the possibility of getting involved in "COP" which stands for Citizens On Patrol. The office response was "what is COP?" and no we don't have or need one here in Kitimat. The 2nd comment deals with the walking path between Okanagan on Columbia..because of the constant growth of undercover brush along the inital part of the trail and the fact that it is used by small children a lot going and coming from school, it is just not safe anymore to walk in this area in the dark (especially with the bear population in the area) I have talked to public works and parks and rec on this issue and they don't seem to think it is a problem, so nothing was done about it. Does someone have to get hurt before it becomes a problem??? Come on folks...it is time to become proactive instead of reactive in this town.
Sidewalks and Patrols
Comment by Christopher Holahan on 14th September 2013
I have to agree with others that have stated elsewhere that our sidewalks are a problem. And the sidewalks are something that the DoK can deal with, especially if the Council knows and understands what the problem is.
In the original Master Plan and building of the town, the sidewalks were separated from the main roads so as pedestrians and vehicles would not be sharing the same space. Also, it was designed to be pedestrian friendly, such that trips within the neighbourhood are probably faster on the sidewalks than on the roads in cars. But there was more to it then just that, many of the original houses had their front doors facing the greenbelts and the sidewalks. Part of the reason was to foster community, to put neighbours into human level face-to-face situations, ie greeting each other on the sidewalks in the green spaces. However, two other ideals were at play against this vision - car culture and 'personal' property. So the income level of our industrial community allowed people to embrace automobiles with a vengeance, and our weather kind of dictated you should have one - much preferable to go anywhere in a warm dry vehicle then traipse through rainy downpours or slog through deep wet snow and slush! Also, the sidewalks got closed in by property owners defining their space by building fences, many to the maximum permissible height of 6 feet, or planting hedges. Many of these sidewalks are now downright scary curved little canyons that you can not see more then a few feet down as they follow around the backs of our crescent shaped streets. And because of the fences and trees, many parts of them are in darkness in the night as the light from the light standards just does not bend around corners!
Now, where I live in Kildala there is a request to run a sidewalk along Quatsino. District staff, especially in the planning department seems to be against it (as it is against the principles of the Master Plan). Well, did the Master Plan envision the abandonment of so many sidewalks in Kildala? As an over 6' man, I feel safer walking around beside that road than going through our back alley sidewalks. So how do women feel? So how do parents who know the state of these sidewalks feel about their children using them?
At various times in the past, the police have conducted bicycle patrols of the sidewalks. I myself had been stopped and talked to by bicycle patrols a couple of times when they were doing them. It seems to me that not to long ago the Council approved money to replace the Detachment's bicycles. But it also appears that wether these patrols get done or not is if we have a couple of Officers in town who want to patrol this way and the Staff Sargent lets them or not.
The District Council needs to take another good hard look at the sidewalks recognizing things have changed socially since the Master Plan was laid down. Ans the police, they need to consider carefully if Kitimat gets its best patrol coverage from a cruiser...
Well, not really, Phil
Comment by Bill Vollrath on 14th September 2013
I replied to this on FB too and used my name there as well. Why are people afraid to use their names when criticising the police? This is not a police state. The RCMP work for us, not against us! Anyways, Phil...the back sidewalks in Kitimat are open and free for the carryings on of the criminal underworld...and there IS an underworld here...don't be fooled. You MUST get walking and cycling patrols on the sidewalks...and you need cameras on some of them as well as in certain areas of town. Behind Trigos, Nechako center and the squares at both ends of the mall would be good places to start. And if Kitimat is going to continue to allow free camping on the river bank, you need to patrol camper city once an hour, every day, 24 hrs. a day. Where else are the typical spots for troublemakers gather? I don't know (anymore) but you didn't know when I did either. I know because I never saw you there! Haha! Sorry...I never caused too much trouble...honest. But Geezzz, this letter makes it sound like Kitimat is Shangri-La! I assure you, it is not. And with a 2000 man work camp going in downtown, I sure hope you're adding some patrol officers.
A whitewash.
Comment by Concerned resident on 14th September 2013
Sir...with all due respect, I believe that you are applying a coat of whitewash over a very serious problem here in Kitimat, that is growing pretty much beyond this Districts ability to even comprehend, let alone police.

The beating, almost to death, of a local man in the parking lot of the Keg, where he was just exiting a cab, by a group of three men, one of whom has a black belt in Martial Arts..and who are all from out of town. These men were just looking to beat someone..anyone. And they found one, is a case in point. And the men are still working for their contractor employer, here in Kitimat.

To suggest that there are no problems beyond your detachments ability to handle is nonesense. I believe you have 7 members currently? That gives you how many on actual duty on any given weekend night? Yes, your members are on call, but they have to report to the station, get a car and get to the trouple call. It's all over by then, isn't it.
What is the detachment strength supposed to be, Sir?

The young woman that was attacked by a group of men a week or so ago? Her face is still badly bruised. No arrests made, I believe?

I think that your job should be to be open and upfront with this commuity. I believe that keeping the information to special interest groups, like Couuncil, while denying it to the public is a great dis-service.

And if you can't control the speeding, on Haisla hill on any given shift change, how can you even begin to control serious criminal activity.

The Kitimat Rumour Mill
Comment by A concerned Mom, Born & Raised on 14th September 2013
To S/Sgt. Harrison,

Yes, Kitimat does have a very active Rumour Mill. And yes, most of us do listen to the gossip. I think that you would find that to be the norm for most small communities. Especially given the fact that in Kitimat, for the most part, everybody does know everybody. We know each other because our children go to school with one another, they swim, skate, play soccer and hockey together. Chances are, I have attended school with their Mother, Father, Auntie or Uncle, or all of the above. I grew up with them, work with them, still live in the same town as them.
So when something seriously bad happens to someone that we love, and it feels like it is being hushed up by the "powers that be", it concerns us. We need to be made aware of the situation so that we are better equipped to protect ourselves and our families, moving forward. You do not need to go into specific details, such as names & witness accounts, by any means. But a heads up, such as....
The RCMP ask you to be extra vigilant when walking alone or in small groups at night. After an incident occurred over the week-end, involving an under aged girl being assaulted on her way home. Because, if this type of incident has already happened to someone, recently, and the public wasn't warned, then this latest incident over the week-end could have and hopefully would have been prevented, and that is shameful!!
Is it any wonder then, why people post this information on social media. We have to look out for one another, somebody has to.
I do agree with you that Facebook can increase both the speed & spreading of rumours, whether they're true or false. So please let me just say this, that I would honestly prefer to find out about these incidents from the RCMP, rather than "through the grapevine". At least I would know that it was from a reliable source. I look forward to reading your weekly report consisting of a quick summary of events or calls that the police respond to.
Thank-you for taking the time to read my comment.
Rumours? Really?
Comment by Wolverine #2 on 12th September 2013
Why is the drug problem so bad in Kitimat, Sgt. Phil? Or is that just another nasty rumour? Get your head out of the sand and take a good look at what is really going on in our community. Turn off the radar gun, get out of your squad car, and start doing some serious policing.