After graduating from the RCMP's training academy, new police officers will find themselves posted in a city or town anywhere across Canada.
When Cst. Megan Letang received her first posting to Bonnyville, Alta, a town of 5,000 about 250 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, she launched community initiatives to get to know her neighbours.
I got involved and it's a way I made this community my home," she says.
Letang began her community police work with a Safe Halloween project handing out pumpkin-shaped buckets stuffed with a glow stick, healthy snacks and a safety pamphlet to local trick-or-treaters. She collaborated with Bonnyville Victim Services to help secure donations from area businesses and handed out more than 300 safety pumpkins in 2018 and 350 in 2019.
After the program's success, she looked for other ways to connect with the community such as volunteering to serve the annual Christmas dinner and participating in Strawberry Tea — a local tradition where RCMP officers in red serge visit seniors throughout town.
It helps show that we're here to make the community safer and we're approachable and easy to talk to," says Letang. "
People know they can stop and talk to me and have a conversation."
After responding to one call, Letang wanted to find a way to reward the young person who reported the incident. While talking with other officers at the detachment, she decided to organize a positive ticketing program to encourage local youth to be smart, active and obey the law.
I strongly believe that by building a better relationship with youth in our community, it can help them make positive choices later on," she says.
The connections forged through community programs also help police during other work.
Having good relationships with the community is integral during investigations," says RCMP Sgt. Kimberly Hillier with the Bonnyville detachment. "
When people trust the police officers who serve them, they're more open to talking to us and bringing us information."
Organizing local programs is one of the many ways the RCMP works to make communities safer.
Cst. Letang has looked at what issues the community is facing and works to address them," says Hillier. "
She has a full workload of general duty policing and is very involved in the community as well."
Last year, Letang helped organize a bullying awareness presentation that brought a message of kindness to 500 young people in the Bonnyville area.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed some plans, Letang hopes to plan another anti-bullying presentation this year, even if it has to go virtual.