Kevin Lewis served for two-and-a-half years as staff sergeant with the Thompson RCMP detachment prior to his recent promotion to inspector and prior to that had served further north in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and Iqaluit, Nunavut; Mayor Dennis Fenske believes that this is the first time that a staff sergeant in Thompson has been promoted to the role of inspector within the detachment (previously, members who have served in Thompson have returned to the community as inspectors).
“We’ve really integrated into the community here,” said Lewis. “I coach hockey and work with the Scouts program, and my wife is also a member of the RCMP, so it makes us easy to relocate. I was very happy to be promoted into Thompson.”
Lewis has had his hand in several community initiatives, including Project Northern Doorway, a housing-first initiative undertaken with the City of Thompson to address the core contingency of chronically homeless residents in the community. “Seeing people go into that stream and emerge successfully is an amazing thing to see. There’s a lot of naysayers around this project, but I think we’ve made some progress with that, and it’s a real feather in the cap of the city of Thompson.”
Lewis also took the opportunity to review Thompson’s Crime Prevention Strategy, an annual review of detachment priorities among local community stakeholders, before council at its July 18 meeting. Despite Thompson having the largest RCMP contract in Manitoba outside of Winnipeg, Lewis noted that this didn’t mean the RCMP’s resources were limitless. “Like any other organization with limited resources, we need to put those priorities in place so that we’re working effectively to address the needs of the community.”
The RCMP’s priorities this year revolve around drugs, prolific offenders, traffic, and youth/community engagement. Along with regular foot and motor patrols, Thompson’s includes a general investigation unit, plainclothes police officers responsible for collecting intelligence regarding drugs, organized crime and other more significant offences.
More specialized is the crime reduction unit, that focuses on targeting individuals responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime in Thompson: “We have those individuals in our community that are real bad guys, and we focus/target a specific number of individuals that we believe are going to reoffend and be a danger to the public, to ensure that these individuals are not breaching their conditions, and when they are, to ensure they go back to jail.”
The RCMP also staffs two officers that help with youth programs, bike rodeos and community networking with partner agencies to encourage better relationships between law enforcement and the community at large.
The priorities outlined by Lewis are in addition to the core service of uniformed members, and are not identical year-to-year, whether due to the changing needs of the community or changing resources. Earlier this year, when council received discretionary approval to reduce the Thompson’s RCMP contract, Lewis noted it would be exactly these services that would be identified as potential areas for reduction.
In a conversation with the Thompson Citizen he noted, “The core mandate of policing is the members in police cars responding to calls. Everything else is periphery: the community policing section, the general investigations section, and the traffic spot are ‘nice-to-haves.’ Not every detachment has them.”