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New Brunswick town questions RCMP communication

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WATCH: The acting mayor of St. George, N.B. is raising concerns after she says recent crimes have been brought to her attention by social media and not RCMP. Travis Fortnum reports – Mar 14, 2021

St. George, N.B. is not a big town and acting mayor Faith Avery says there isn’t much crime there — so she wants to know why they haven’t been able to count on RCMP for timely communication when things do happen.

She says the need for better communication has been demonstrated to her twice in recent weeks.

On Feb. 8, a 27-year-old man was stabbed inside a Main Street apartment. Police say the suspect fled before they arrived but Avery says they didn’t put any info out.

Then, on March 4, a convenience store on L’Etete Road was robbed by two men.

Avery says she learned everything she knows of both incidents from social media posts.

“The robbery was just around the corner from my house and I hadn’t heard about it,” she says.

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“I learned about it on Facebook, somebody asking me about it, and the mayor should not be saying ‘I don’t know, you tell me.’”

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She worries about the situation residents could find themselves in if an even more serious, active incident were to take place in town – but also ponders how the RCMP’s provincial shift to standardized quarterly reports is seen as a better solution than the former, monthly reports to council.

“We’re not asking for our hands to be held or anything, I’m just asking for the heads up,” she says.

The New Brunswick RCMP say the new method is all about efficiency.

“This allows us to share data with the entire regional service commission in a more efficient manner, and the reports still include local breakdown of statistics and examples of local successes,” Cpl. Hans Ouelette, an RCMP media relations officer, wrote in an email.

He says anyone interested can also find daily occurrence reports, news releases and annual reports on the RCMP website.

“We know people care about the work police are doing in their communities, and we want New Brunswickers to know more about the hard work our members are doing every day across the province,” says Ouellette.

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Avery says she’s been working on getting reports back before council since taking over the mayor’s chair in 2019.

“I really felt, as did most people, that we should’ve been informed of these as a courtesy if nothing else,” she says.

St. George pays $450,000 for RCMP services in town annually, and Avery questions whether the status quo is getting them their money’s worth.

“That’s a big chunk of change for a small town,” she says.

She says she expects this to be an issue on the campaign trail for May’s municipal election.

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