Following community concerns about child safety in public parks, the Elk Valley RCMP remind locals not only to educate youth about potential dangers, but also to report suspicious behaviour to the RCMP rather than posting it on social media.
“We encourage people to report things to us directly–people like to comment on social media, but we notice that at times social media can inflame the situation,” said Dan Hay, operations officer for the Elk Valley RCMP.
“It’s not a clear picture of what is actually going on, so we do appreciate when people call us directly to report suspicious people or behaviour, then we can deal with it and hopefully prevent any not thoughtout actions taken against people in the future.”
Hay also suggests reporting matters to the RCMP as social media is not monitored and posts may go unnoticed.
“Just posting it to social media doesn’t always attract our attention.
“If there’s anything suspicious, give us a call, we’ll check it out and we’ll report back to our complainants and make sure (there are) no safety issues.”
According to Hay, the most important thing parents can do is educate children about what to do in the event of suspicious behaviour.
“Parents need to have that conversation with their kids to make sure they know where the kids are or where they are going to be,” said Hay.
“Have a plan– it’s not to control kids completely, but should something happen at least parents will know where the children are.”
Hay also suggests teaching children to use their devices to take photos or videos if they feel unsafe.
Due to the transient nature of Fernie’s population, Hay also recommends that all younger children be supervised by parents or guardians when in parks and other public locations where they run the possibility of interacting with strangers or those from out of town.
“Fernie is still considered a small town, but it does attract a lot of people from across the country that come through.”
With regards to recent reports about concerning behaviour at the Fernie Skate-park, Hay assures the public that the RCMP have identified and spoken to all subjects being complained about.
“At this point no crime has been committed. It appears a lot of it was bad judgment and not well thought out ideas of these men.”
According to Hay, the RCMP have previously approached people in the park who at first glance looked suspicious, but were there for legitimate reasons such as having kids or grandkids out of view.
While the RCMP discourage anyone from taking justice into their own hands, they also remind locals that friendly, non-confrontational conversations can often help avoid misunderstandings.