What began as a complaint turned into an opportunity for Salmon Arm RCMP and new immigrants to the community.
Salmon Arm Citizens on Patrol, who are RCMP associate volunteers, carry out many duties to support the work of police, including setting up Speed Watch displays to slow motorists and being the eyes and ears of police by patrolling areas of Salmon Arm and Canoe.
Cpl. Luiz Sardinha liaises with the group and heard that citizens at a local centre were alarmed when they saw individuals in uniforms in the parking lot. Sardinha said it happened to be a place where stolen vehicles and property are sometimes stashed by people other than those at the centre.
The complaint highlighted the need for police to talk to different agencies, one being the Shuswap Immigrant Services Society. A visit there was set up to offer details about volunteer opportunities as well as provide information to help newcomers integrate into the community.
A 20-minute visit turned into two hours, Sardinha said, with much interest in policing.
The language class was then invited to tour the police station, so about 20 people from countries including Japan, Romania, Italy, Syria, Mexico and Germany participated.
Sardinha and Staff Sgt. Scott West were two of the officers involved in the visit.
“They really enjoyed learning more about the judicial system from the policing perspective as well as being able to try on some of the bullet-proof vests and the equipment,” West said, adding with a smile: “There might be the odd picture with somebody in handcuffs dangling in front of them.”
Sardinha said the participants were able to talk to police officers who helped, in some cases, to dispel fears.
“What we were trying to get out of it was to get some people volunteering for citizens’ patrol, and just get to know their police department and know police aren’t bad,” he said. “I told them I live in the same community as you do. If you see me, wave at me, say ‘hi’ to me. I’m not a policeman when I’m out walking with my family.”
Mehrnaz Kobari, a settlement worker with Shuswap Immigrant Services Society, said relationships in different countries can be very different with police.
“The visit to the station is the first step in introducing them and getting them connected with the RCMP.
She notes the introductions and information-gathering go both ways.
“So the community partners will know there is a lot of diversity in Salmon Arm…”