BARRHEAD - The Barrhead RCMP wants to hear from the residents they police about their concerns, ideas, kudos, and criticisms.
To help facilitate this, the detachment will host a virtual town hall on Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m.
Sgt. Bob Dodds said when the detachment started hosting these types of public engagement sessions a few years ago, they were immensely popular, recalling their first town hall session in September 2019 packed the Senors' Drop-in Centre, which was followed by an almost as successful public engagement session in Fort Assiniboine a few months later.
Subsequent attempts after the pandemic have yet to be as successful. A return trip to the Seniors' Drop-in Centre attracted just over a dozen people, mostly elected officials like the County of Barrhead reeve and the local media.
"I'm not sure why they were not successful," he said, adding weather might have been a factor, as the event fell on the same evening of a significant rain storm.
However, Dodds hopes that changing the format from the traditional in-person meeting to one where people can log in from wherever they are will mean a much higher participation rate.
Although the topics for questions and discussion will be up to the public, Dodds believes topics of conversation will include the "catch and release justice system" and crime trends.
Dodds said he also planned to talk about some of the challenges police face, as well as what they can and cannot do.
"I want to refresh people's memory about what our limitations and authorities are," he said.
In addition to the sergeant, Cpl. Filipe Vicente and Sgt. Leigh Drinkwater of Westlock Traffic Services will be on hand. The trio will be at the County of Barrhead council chambers, as the municipality will provide technical assistance to host the town hall.
As for what the meeting will look like on one's computer or device, Barrhead RCMP Detachment services assistant Christine Hove said it resembles a typical Zoom meeting.
For an invitation to the town hall, area residents are asked to e-mail the detachment at [email protected]. The detachment will then send back a link via e-mail from the detachment, after which they need to click on the link and follow the instructions. People can request the link right up to the day of the event.
Dodds also suggested that when residents contact the detachment to get the details on how they can participate, they should also submit their questions or topics of concern to give the panel time to find any relevant information.
Those not on a computer or the Internet can participate in the town hall via telephone. Again, the RCMP suggest that people call the detachment at 780-674-4848 during regular office hours ahead of time to get the dial-in instructions.