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Overnight park access prohibition may strain MJPS resources

Moose Jaw Police Service 'wouldn鈥檛 be able to dedicate resources on an ongoing basis.'
Crescent Park paths 6
Crescent Park. File photo

MOOSE JAW — , but the Moose Jaw Police Service (MJPS) says it may not have enough resources to patrol those greenspaces regularly.

The Board of Police Commissioners discussed the proposed bylaw during its June 7 meeting, with police executives saying they are pleased to consult with city hall about this issue. However, there isn’t much else the organization can say since council is still debating the topic.

“There’s no details obviously (because) it’s just going before council, but I thought it was important (to discuss with the board) because obviously, it will impact the services our police service provides,” said Crystal Froese, board chairwoman and city councillor, “and I thought we need to have good engagement back and forth around this.”

While the bylaw would close parks overnight between certain hours, neither council nor city administration has determined which municipal greenspaces will be affected, she continued. However, that will be a good discussion to have.

Meanwhile, Froese noted that, based on conversations she’s had with older residents, the community had a curfew decades ago where anyone under 16 had to be home by 9 p.m.

“This would be a deterrent,” she added.

Although no parks have been singled out yet, Crescent Park would likely be included on that list, said Commissioner Doug Blanc, also a city councillor. He wondered what resources the police service would require to patrol that park if the city restricts its hours and whether that responsibility would add additional stress.

“As I’m sure you can appreciate, calls never stop coming into the Moose Jaw Police Service. We operate off a … triage system … (where) we’re queuing calls and dispatching when necessary,” said Deputy Chief Rick Johns.

The organization usually asks its members to patrol downtown parks whenever there is a lull in calls and when time permits, he continued. However, the MJPS “wouldn’t be able to dedicate resources on an ongoing basis,” while this task would be an extra responsibility. 

The police service would add that park to its patrol area, which would see bicycle-based members cruise through that greenspace in the summer since they can access it quickly and stealthily, Johns added.

“It’s common to be done (elsewhere),” said Commissioner Nicole Swanson, who worked as a police officer for two decades in Calgary. 

“I know other places where I’ve lived, there would be certain parks that would be closed between whatever hours and we would patrol in there just to make sure there was nothing crazy going on,” she continued.  

Also, officers will have a reason to question people in the parks if this bylaw is in effect because they would be trespassing, Swanson added. 

Member’s resignation

The board will have to appoint a new civilian commissioner because Swanson submitted her resignation and the June meeting was her final one.

“I’m actually really torn about leaving, but it’s just personal reasons that I’m moving out of the city for life choices,” she said. “But I really enjoyed it and I’m really sad.

“I’ll be back. My family’s all here — my mom’s here — so I’ll be back.”

Froese said it was “with deep regret” that she accepted Swanson’s resignation, but she expected Swanson to land in a good place.

“Thank you for your time you served here on the commission. We really appreciate the work and the contribution you’ve provided in the short amount of time you’ve been here … ,” Froese added. “We’ll miss ya. We’re not that far away.”