The RCMP is offering advice to people to help them get through the Christmas/New Year’s season safely and securely.
Staff Sergeant Kenneth Beard of ‘G’ Division’s South District said the RCMP is focusing on three things – impaired driving, home and auto security, and preparing to travel in winter.
“The Christmas season is particularly of interest to us because it’s supposed to be a festive time,” said Beard, who is stationed in Hay River. “We want people to be happy and safe and secure, so that’s why we have these initiatives that we run on a national basis across the country.”
The officer noted that the RCMP has an annual initiative called Operation Gingerbread against impaired driving.
“That’s really important to us,” he said. “We want to try to keep community members safe on the roadways this year.”
Beard said people need to take precautions to make sure that they and others are safe if they plan to drink, advising they should arrange for a designated driver, or for a person to keep an eye on them and make sure that they get home safely.
“This particular season of the year, there’s more getting together and sometimes the partying and celebrating goes up, particularly as you get closer to the New Year,” he said. “And so we want to make sure the community is safe.”
Beard added that members of the public can also help the RCMP fight impaired driving.
“Be vigilant and keep your eye open for people that they suspect might be drinking and driving,” he said. “Take that extra moment if they believe someone has been drinking and driving to take down a licence plate or a description of the vehicle or even the identification of the driver, and forward that to the RCMP as soon as possible and we’ll be responding to deal with the matter.”
Beard also advised people to secure their belongings in vehicles during the season, which is a time for shopping and delivering gifts.
“We have a lot of things go missing from vehicles during this time,” he noted. “People see presents or other valuables inside of vehicles.”
Identity theft is another possible problem if wallets or purses are stolen from vehicles, the officer said. “People leave their wallets sometimes on their seats or their purses in the backseat or something to that effect. And somebody breaks into the vehicle and they steal the stuff, and then they create all kinds of problems down the road for a person as a result of accessing identity.”
As for keeping houses secure if homeowners are travelling, Beard advised that they should leave drapes or curtains open, and leave lights on inside residences.
“The most important thing is to get someone to look after the residence and check on it from time to time,” he added.
Beard said the third aspect of the RCMP’s public safety tips is to encourage motorists to be prepared when they’re travelling on the roadways, particularly those who live in remote areas of the NWT.
“They’re going long distances,” he noted. “They could leave on one day when the weather is a certain way and it can turn very, very fast. So we want to make sure the community members are aware of the dangers.”
The RCMP is advising people to have a plan when travelling, to let others know where they’re going and when they’re scheduled to arrive, to bring extra clothing, and to bring communication devices, such as satellite phones, if they have them.