LETTER: Kitimat RCMP head says town’s rumour mill ‘running amok’

Staff Sergeant Phil Harrison of the Kitimat RCMP detachment takes umbrage with mis-perception of crime rate.

Dear Sir,

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