Gangs, crime and drugs

A conversation with Flin Flon RCMP Sgt. Shayne Smith

Don’t let Shayne Smith’s youthful appearance fool you.

Though he’s only in his mid-30s, the sergeant of the Flin Flon RCMP detachment has spent more than a dozen years in law enforcement.

During that time he has earned the respect of colleagues, elected officials and community members.

The Reminder caught up with Sgt. Smith this week to discuss crime in Flin Flon.

REMINDER: Are there gangs in Flin Flon? Which ones and to what extent?

SMITH: Due to the transient nature of some of our offenders and Flin Flon being considered a centre in the North, we do, albeit infrequently, have the odd member of a gang travel through Flin Flon.

We have found that these people do not normally stay for an extended period of time. Furthermore, if Flin Flon RCMP [are] made aware that gang members or any other prolific offenders will be in the community, and if they are on enforceable conditions, such persons are monitored closely.

Flin Flon detachment members have had success having prolific offenders remanded back into custody once released.

REMINDER: Certain crimes over the past year, including an attempted murder, an apparently random assault involving unknown assailants and a man spotted waving a knife in broad daylight, have many Flin Flonners worried. How do you reassure them?

SMITH: It must be stressed that these were isolated incidents and are not the norm in our community.

Unfortunately, crime does and will occur, but the vast majority of crimes are committed by a small percentage of the population. The public does not tolerate such actions, nor do the police, and anyone committing such crimes will be charged to the fullest extent possible.

Our collective message to those who choose to break into people’s homes or businesses, sell drugs, commit assaults or whatever the case may be, is that such behaviours or acts will not be tolerated and are not welcome in our community.

REMINDER: RCMP figures from Statistics Canada show that while overall crime in Flin Flon tends to be cyclical, incidents of violent crime were more than double in 2012 compared to 2005 with 198 incidents versus 98. Violent crime also spiked 32 per cent between 2011 and 2012. What is happening to cause this unwelcome trend?

SMITH: This is a very broad and complex question that would require much examination. Crime trends are based on many different factors and a number of variables, such as changing demographics, social changes, etcetera.

REMINDER: What is Flin Flon’s biggest crime problem right now?

SMITH: Property crime, such as break and enters, has been an issue where we have seen an increase.

REMINDER: Where and why are Flin Flon’s crime hot spots?

SMITH: There aren’t hot spots per se, as we do get calls for service in all areas of Flin Flon.

REMINDER: A group of volunteers is planning to launch a Citizens On Patrol program in Flin Flon. Do you believe this is needed?

SMITH: There are benefits to such a program, as obviously police simply cannot be everywhere at once. Having such a resource available, those extra eyes and ears in the community, would certainly be a positive resource, which could be beneficial in crime detection but more importantly, prevention.

REMINDER: How common are hard drugs like cocaine in Flin Flon?

SMITH: The days of a community being immune or insulated from drugs are gone and Flin Flon is no exception.

Drugs are in the community and will remain so long as there is the demand and a segment of the population that engages in drug use.

We will actively target those persons engaged in the trafficking of illicit substances. If you sell drugs, you can expect a visit from your local RCMP. We won’t be there to have tea.

REMINDER: RCMP always stress the need for community cooperation, particularly having citizens provide the police with any crime-related information they have. Are you happy with the level of cooperation your detachment receives?

SMITH: As citizens of Flin Flon, we all have a stake in the community and have a role to play, big or small, and the public’s assistance is always valued and appreciated.

There are varying reasons why one may choose not [to] provide information, but that one last piece of the puzzle, however seemingly inconsequential, could be the information needed for us to bring an investigation to a successful resolution.

REMINDER: How does Flin Flon benefit from the RCMP cooperation between the Flin Flon and Creighton detachments?

SMITH: Like any other neighbouring detachments, we do work closely together and we have a great relationship.

Due to our close proximity to each other, we do share some of the same issues and clients, so it is crucial that we work as a team and share ideas and information in order to be successful.

REMINDER: The RCMP’s Northern Traffic Services program has moved to The Pas, taking two Flin Flon-based officers with it. Will your detachment suffer?

SMITH: No. Despite being moved to The Pas, there will still be a traffic presence as the unit is mobile, meaning there will still be that presence on our roadways with local municipal enforcement and initiatives, such as checkstops, augmented by Flin Flon’s detachment members.

The second part of this interview will appear Friday.

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