BY MARCUS DAY
For Michelle McKenzie, much of the anxiety over possible changes to policing in the Maple Creek area could have been avoided.
The Mayor of Maple Creek criticized the way the RCMP officer spearheading the review, Supt. Kevin Kunetzki, and consulting firm MNP had handled public consultation.
She said they should have contacted municipalities earlier in the process to allow a rational public debate on the issues.
Instead, by not being more upfront, they had caused alarm in the community.
“Shame on Kevin and shame on Meyers Norris Penny.” – Mayor McKenzie
McKenzie spoke after attending last Wednesday’s meeting about the RCMP/MNP study on the present policing model in the Cypress Region, which includes Swift Current (rural), Gravelbourg, Leader, Maple Creek, Morse, Ponteix, and Shaunavon.
Similar town hall meetings have been held in other communities.
As many as 430 people showed up at the Armoury where they heard Regina-based Supt. Kunetzki, District Officer, South District Management Team, and MNP partner Chad Lins talk about the review and field questions.
Kunetzki spoke about his concept of a super-hub policing model for the Swift Current region, saying the aim was to improve service and provide flexibility for managing staffing needs.
People were invited to consider four questions:
• What are your concerns regarding safety in your community?
• What are some positives of the current deployment system?
• What are some challenges of the current deployment system?
• What, in your opinion, can be done to address the challenges?
McKenzie questioned why Supt. Kunetzki and MNP had waited so long to hold consultation meetings.
“They knew about this for at least four months,” she said. “They say they gave a lot of thought to rolling out these meetings. If they gave a lot of thought, why were we told on December 19 that they were going to have a meeting on policing policy … then nothing else, no news release?
“All they did to my community was to cause panic and pandemonium. If they had four questions that they wanted answering, why did they not give those to the municipalities and have them answered in a rational way? Right now, nobody is talking rationally.”
McKenzie, who has attended meetings in other communities, said she kept hearing terms like “pooling resources” and “deployment models”, but without any explanation of what they meant.
“I’ve asked these questions and been to two town hall meetings,” she said. “I was in Shaunavon, totally different story. In Leader, totally different story.”
McKenzie said she hoped people in Maple Creek could “see between the lines.”
“I see between the lines that they are not answering questions. Every question Kevin Kunetzki was asked, he skirted around. Forty-five minutes, he talked bout his past and his policing experiences. I don’t want to know about his policing experiences.
“What I want to know is how does he see the model of policing. How does he see it? Give me an example for it. What are the flexible options that he sees? What are these examples? Tell me. If you wrote the proposal for this, you had to have a vision. How is this operational? I’ve asked these questions and get non-answers.
“Other people are asking the same questions. The crowd asked those questions in a roundabout way. He put up a smokescreen. There is no trust. I wanted the public to have their voice heard. How do you trust somebody when they already did what they did?”
McKenzie also said Kunetzki had not shed light on his super-hub concept.
At the meeting, she added, Kunetzki had appeared to distance himself from it, saying “super-hub” was just a term he came up with. However, in the RCMP notice about the town hall meeting, the super-hub had a specific name: Cypress Regional Detachment.