For the Moose Jaw Police Service, 2021 looks to hold almost as much opportunity as 2020 held disappointment.

The unique challenges of the pandemic have brought put a hold on a number of the plans the police service had in store. 

"So much of our community involvement has been restricted," explains Chief of Police Rick Bourassa. "We haven't been able to work as closely with a lot of the community groups and agencies that we have relationships with. We keep in touch but we just can't move forward with some of the really important pieces of work that we had wanted to get done. But we'll get back there."

Another focus for the police service in the new year will be to increase their tactical capabilities in response to high-risk situations. Over the past few years, there has been an increase in dangerous emergency calls including situations where a suspect has barricaded themselves inside a building or where firearms are involved. That work often requires special teams with specialized training to be called in.

"Typically, what has happened here in Moose Jaw is that we have relied on our partners in the RCMP or other municipal police services to provide that tactical support to us. We're very thankful for that support, however, it does take a lot of time for people to come from other places, and sometimes time is of the essence."

A number of the officers here in Moose Jaw already have that training, but Bourassa says they hope to be able to create a whole team so that the local police service can respond to more calls independently.

"We have been building capacity and we're hoping to have that fully in place by the end of 2021. There's just a lot of training that goes into that. When we do get those situations, we will be able to respond very quickly."

Another important operational change coming to the force revolves around combatting child exploitation, both online and off. Bourassa says the issue is one that is becoming more and more of a significant factor in our community.

"We have one member that is fully trained and equipped to do those kinds of investigations. Another member who we were hoping to get trained this fall but unfortunately due to the pandemic we weren't able to. So we'll look to do that this year."

The two officers will comprise a special unit that will focus on keeping kids in the area safe.

While the pandemic will by no means be leaving us anytime too near in the future, Bourassa is optimistic that 2021 will have many more opportunities than its predecessor. 

"When this is behind us, we'll get back to doing those things that are so important for keeping our community safe and inclusive." 

 

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