The Morden Police Board (MPB) is developing a strategic plan to provide direction for the work of the department and its service to the community. 

Board Chair Lee Bassett recalled the first community voice collection last year in a survey. She shared the biggest concern that 'keeps people up at night.' 

"People were really concerned about drug crime and I don't think that was any secret, but they came out loud and clear during this survey. We found that the majority of the individuals who replied to the question, 'Where should police focus their efforts on in the future?' It was community policing, creating partnerships between the police and citizens to prevent crime and create safe environments." 

This feedback gives direction to the board as they are leaning towards asking the question, "How can we create stronger and positive partnerships with our community stakeholders?" noted Bassett. She added it was good to see the community is thinking about that too.  

The next step in gathering community voice took place over the last month or so with MPB meeting with community stakeholders, according to Bassett. These conversations were facilitated by former Western and Pembina Trails School Divisions Superintendent and Morden resident, Ted Fransen on December 11th and 18th. 

"Some of the participants that came out to those conversations included people from probations, Boundary Trails Health Centre, Menzies Clinic, Western School Division, Regional Connections, City of Morden, Genesis House, Manitoba Possible, 500 Stephen Street, and a few of our church members came out as well. So, we were really happy to see that kind of response." 

Fransen asked stakeholders four questions: 

1. What is the biggest challenge facing our community when it comes to public safety? 

2. What police values would the participants like to see strengthened?  

3. Is there a value missing that should be a core value? 

4. How can their organization contribute to a safe community and help prevent crime?  

Stakeholder responses often mirrored the feedback received from the survey almost a year ago. Especially for the first question.  

"The participants felt the drug addiction leads to poverty, which leads to theft and also drug addiction leads to a deterioration of one's mental health, which can lead to more violence and crime. So, that really coincided with what our survey was telling us." 

In regard to values, Bassett was happy to hear participants felt the police service upheld and lived its values. 

The group also valued accountability and integrity are the most important, stressing the importance of honesty and accountability to each other and to the community. 

Core values revolved around collaboration and engagement with the community also reinforced what MPB heard from the survey. 

When it came to finding ways to contribute to a safe community to help prevent crime, more probing was needed. 

Feedback was favourable around the creation of the community Resource Officer. Collaboration with MPS through shared educational and professional development opportunities, such as mental health, and utilizing officers to present to the staff and an organization's clientele, were some ways stakeholders volunteered to be part of the solution.     

Bassett was disappointed about the lack of youth representation at the meetings, hoping the Community Resource Officer may be able to help fill the gap. 

"The police aren't there to arrest you. They're there to help you. The police find no joy in arresting and charging individuals, but they do find a lot of joy in preventing crime. How that looks for the youth, we're trying to figure that out. We can make as many assumptions as we want, but it's better to hear firsthand from the people who are in our communities and we to hear what they think." 

Bassett said the Strategic Plan will now be finalized and released in Spring. 

Officers and board members appreciated the opportunity to meet with stakeholders and hear directly from them and hope to do more of it in the future.