The local RCMP detachment is again implementing a “red zone” in Burns Lake village centre, where they plan to conduct frequent foot patrols and enforce a zero-tolerance policy for substance abuse-related offenses and property crimes.
A map of the red zone provided by the Burns Lake RCMP shows an area extending from Highway 16 to the shores of Burns Lake, and stretching from Third Avenue to the area east of Lakeview Mall.
Police have found the area tends to be a hot spot for crimes such as public consumption of alcohol. “There’s a lot of calls for service for alcohol-related offences, causing disturbance, mischief, that sort of thing,” said Corporal Greg Willcocks.
Police plan to carry out “proactive patrols” that are set to begin on May 1. Willcocks said that it’s a way for uniformed police to integrate with the community.
“You’re going to see us again in the village core of Burns Lake, you’re going to see us at Radley Beach,” he said.
“It’s our job to make ourselves visible,” he said, adding that police would be interacting with people on the streets.
Alcohol-related cases fell by 26 per cent between June 1 and August 30 last year compared to the same period in 2016, Willcocks said. Alcohol and disturbance-related offences declined by a combined 15 per cent, he said.
The village also reported that were no alcohol-related complaints or disturbances at Radley Beach, according to Willcocks.
During that time, police carried out 270 patrols — about three each day.
Willcocks said the primary goal is enforcement of federal and provincial laws but acknowledged that people struggling with addiction need help.
“We also realize that it is important to get people the help they need to fight addiction,” he said, adding that during last year’s pilot project, one individual ended up accessing treatment services.
“With the hard work of the community and the First Nations police officers we have here at the detachment we did get one person into treatment and it did help that person tremendously.”
Willcocks said that police would be on the streets daily. “Everybody in this office is mandated to do those foot patrols,” he said.
He said that few small towns have implemented this kind of policy, and that it’s still considered a pilot project.
Red zones are sometimes associated with restrictive court orders requiring people such as convicted drug dealers to stay outside of the proscribed area, said Willcocks. But he said this isn’t planned for Burns Lake.