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An RCMP officer sits on an All-terrain Vehicle (ATV).

Building connections to police in the Prairies

Police in Powerview, MB., have a lot on their plate. One of those things is keeping in touch with community members and treating everyone with respect. Credit: RCMP


Policing at Manitoba's Powerview detachment in 2021 means officers are busy with everything from COVID-related matters, property crime and persistent calls linked to crystal meth.

The region is about 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg and includes the town of Powerview-Pine Falls – with a population of more than 1,300 – several First Nation communities and recreational areas that burst in size during the summer as cottagers and vacationers flock to the area to enjoy the outdoors.

"It's a very busy place and our members are often running from call to call," says S/Sgt. Jeffry Monkman, the detachment commander.

Last summer, officers worked closely with surrounding First Nation communities during a COVID-19 outbreak. Most notably, when they helped the Sagkeeng First Nation patrol checkpoints into the community that ensured only band members entered.

"They weren't messing around and were doing everything they could to keep their community safe," says Monkman, who noted there were some concerns about having the checkpoints on provincial highways.

"We worked hand in hand with the First Nation to make sure there were no issues."

Tackling the drug problem

Cpl. Jay Semkiw, who has worked for years to disrupt drug traffickers in the area, says effective communications is key to successful policing.

"Compiling drug warrants requires a lot of intel and you get that from people, people who may not even like you and trust you," says the 12-year RCMP veteran. "You get that by treating people with respect, whether it's in the community on a shift, or even when you're arresting them."

In Powerview, high on the RCMP's radar is the addictive drug crystal methamphetamine, which police say is easily shipped into the area from Winnipeg – a little more than an hour's drive away.

Semkiw says it's popular because it is cheap and the high can last for days.

He acknowledges that arresting drug dealers can be a frustrating line of work.

"When you bust one it seems two more pop up to take their place," he says, adding that there are dividends.

"You understand what the community needs and, in this case, it's addictions services and counselling," says Semkiw. "People need help and there are people who want it."

Engaging and learning

Providing that assistance not only helps people kick a destructive drug habit, but can also steer them away from illicit activities that help buy the drugs in the first place.

"There's no doubt a lot of the property crime in the area is tied to people trying to fund their drug habit," says Monkman, the detachment commander.

Cottages and recreational properties along Lake Winnipeg and the Winnipeg River are easy targets, but Monkman says officers at the detachment are always working with owners to protect their valuables.

That type of engagement is one thing Cst. Christine Doctora appreciates about working at Powerview.

"This is not a quiet detachment. It's a good place to go after Depot," Doctora says, noting new graduates of the RCMP training academy would be exposed to a wide variety of files.

"It's a good place to work and to start your career," she says.

Part of that, she says, is embracing a willingness to learn from RCMP colleagues, but also other first-responders in the community.

"They have a lot of insight into the community, the knowledge and the experience that you can use to continually help the community," says Doctora.

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