Who do you have to rob to merit a press release in Thompson?

Does it ever seem like there isn’t as much crime news in Thompson as you might expect from a city with the highest violent Crime Severity Index in the country among communities with more than 10,000 residents?

Maybe it doesn’t just seem that way. Perhaps the local detachment and Manitoba RCMP media relations just don’t voluntarily provide that many updates on crimes that occur here.

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From the beginning of August 2018 to the last day of this July, Manitoba RCMP media relations issued 26 press releases about offences and missing people in Thompson. In September and December of 2018, there were no press releases concerning Thompson at all, while August of last year and April of this year featured only one apiece. There were two press releases each in January, May and July, three in November 2018 and February and March of this year, four in October 2018 and five this June.

News releases are sometimes provided by the local detachment as well. Over the past year, there have been 29 press releases from the Thompson detachment, the vast majority (19) coming this June alone. There were none last August, none in October and November and none in February and March as well. January, April and May of this year saw one locally generated news release apiece, while there was a pair last December and five in September 2018.

If that doesn’t seem like a lot, consider that there were 143 complaints called into Thompson RCMP from Princeton Towers alone this June, and that there were 69 sexual assaults, more than 1,100 assaults, 268 domestic assaults, 102 break-and-enters and 561 thefts in Thompson in 2018 alone.

There are, however, more crime stories reported than those alone, since police do often provide information about crimes that media find out about in other ways, particularly through social media, and then make inquiries about.

Once upon a time, well over five years ago now, probably closer to 10, the Thompson RCMP detachment used to provide weekly – the frequency was later reduced to monthly – police reports to the Thompson Citizen and Nickel Belt News. When asked several years ago why these reports were no longer produced, the then Thompson RCMP detachment officer-in-charge said part of the reason the practice was discontinued was because these reports didn’t reflect well on the community.

Is police reticence a common theme everywhere? The Brandon Police Service provides daily media releases, which may contain information about multiple incidents. The July 31 edition included details about the detentions of an intoxicated person, someone with an arrest warrant turning herself in, two incidents involving possession of stolen property, breaches of probation and an undertaking, and a case of fraud and document forgery. The Winnipeg Police Service issued press releases on 22 of July’s 31 days, covering more than 50 incidents, most of which included the file numbers. While Thompson and Manitoba RCMP obviously can’t provide news releases about every intoxicated person detained in the city (there were 4,679 in 2018), they could probably issues press releases about more than 55 incidents in a year, which is less than half of of one per cent of the annual total of 17,421 calls that the detachment received from the beginning of April 2017 to the end of March 2018.

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