LAKE LOUISE – Lake Louise RCMP will host a town hall and open house on March 29 to get community feedback on planning policing priorities for the year.
The new detachment commander, Sgt. Susan Richter, said the town hall meeting is a great way to connect with residents and community leaders to talk about policing priorities and community needs for 2023-24 fiscal year.
Richter said Lake Louise’s policing goals for 2022-23, which are established as part of a detachment’s mandated annual performance plan, included traffic safety, mental health, and proactive policing and community involvement.
“I would like to find out from people if they think this is still appropriate, and if they think there are other things that we should be looking at for the next year,” she said.
“We will also present some statistics and show what the trends are for the community and that can help us shape these goals, so once we have our goals identified, then we break down what we’re going to do to achieve them.”
At the open house, which kicks off at 7 p.m. on March 29 at the Lake Louise Community Centre on Village Road, the local detachment will highlight to the Lake Louise community some of the resources the RCMP has to offer.
There will be displays from the RCMP forensic identification section, recruiting, and traffic units as well as a demonstration by Cpl. Francois Decelles and his police services dog, Forest.
In addition, the Regional Police and Crisis Team (RPACT) will provide an introduction to the mental health services provided to the region.
With mental health a priority for Lake Louise RCMP, Richter said RPACT is a great partnership between Alberta Health Services and the Alberta RCMP – which involves AHS mental health professionals and RCMP teaming up to intervene, assess, de-escalate, refer and follow up with individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.
Based out of Cochrane for this region, she said RPACT has been successful in many other communities.
“For the police, we’re limited by the authorities we have under the Mental Health Act,” she said, noting police can only intervene and bring a person to hospital if there are grounds to believe there is an imminent threat to the person or someone else, or a current mental health condition is deteriorating.
“RPACT can help provide resources to people before they get to that crisis point or if they’re not falling under those criteria, so they can hook them up with resources in the community and other ways of accessing and obtaining the care that they need.”
Richter said mental health in general is a priority issue, coming up even more during the COVID-19 pandemic – when there were lockdowns, public health restrictions, people losing their jobs and feeling isolated.
“It had such an impact on people and we see that in many communities in different ways,” she said, noting police officers respond to suicides.
“It impacts families, it impacts communities, so we want to provide resources and do what we can to prevent that.”
With the explosion in visitation to Lake Louise, traffic safety is also one of the local detachment’s top priorities and makes up a big chunk of policing time.
“When going through our statistics, I see one of the highest types of calls that we get are collisions, driving complaints, and things related to the flow of traffic and safety on the road,” said Richter.
“With the summer bringing such a massive influx of people, that’s the first place we see it in traffic congestion, which can result in road rage incidents, or collisions or various traffic-related incidents.”
Proactive policing, such as road safety and patrols, as well as community involvement are also of great importance to the Lake Louise detachment.
“Lake Louise is a very unique community because it is a tourist location, and there’s a lot of turnover in the community, different people coming and going, and it’s also a small town,” said Richter.
“There’s a lot of events that the community would like us to participate in and we love doing that. It’s very important for us to not only live here but to be active members of this community.”