End radio silence

Moose Jaw Times Herald - Editorial Staff
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Moose Jaw has a good police force. The MJPS excel at preventing crime. 

The last of the Moose Jaw Police Service's fleet of Ford Crown Victorias sits in the parking lot outside police headquarters on Wednesday. The cruiser will be replaced by a Dodge Charger within a few weeks.

They're responsible for keeping Moose Jaw a desirable place to live and work.

On the rare occasions when violent crime does take place, police have a high rate of catching responsible parties.

Moose Jaw is safe because of our neighbours on the other side of Fairford Street West.

But despite adjustments, communication is still one of the Moose Jaw Police Service’s weaknesses.

The SHIELD application for smartphones was a step in the right direction. Suddenly, the police had a way to get information directly to citizens.

Initially, the Times-Herald’s court and crime reporter was nervous that the app was just a way to circumvent the press. But the notifications — primarily about car accidents and routes to avoid — were helpful to the press and public alike.

The last SHIELD broadcast from the MJPS was on Nov. 26. Clearly this wasn’t the tool we, or they, had thought it would be.

There have been opportunities to use it since: the Feb. 20 collision at High Street West and First Avenue Northwest, or the semi fire on Highway 1 on Tuesday. Instead we’ve received nothing.

The police don’t have a Facebook account, but have registered a Twitter handle without a single tweet. Compare that to the recent efforts of the Moose Jaw Fire Department who are active daily on both Facebook and Twitter.

Without the fire department’s Twitter account, we wouldn’t have found out about the semi fire on the highway on Tuesday.

As Moose Jaw’s only real option for comprehensive news coverage, it’s important to us that we know about major events as they happen.

Without reliable information, our reporters turn into siren chasers. That doesn’t benefit emergency responders, reporters or the community.

Certain aspects of the police’s communication approach have changed in the months following the swearing-in of Chief Rick Bourassa.

The daily list of police calls have come in consistently every morning. They are more detailed than ever before. This list is a component of our daily today file, typically found on A3 of our paper, and always posted online. But it’s not instant, and we rarely get tips or hear updates in between.

Press releases come at the convenience of police personnel, and not at the convenience of the general public. To make the Moose Jaw Police Service truly shine, they need our help.

By giving the Times-Herald (and any other competent news organization) a police scanner, the MJPS become even more visible and accountable.

We don’t want to hear about altercations hours later, we want to be there when they’re happening. This community trusts its police officers to keep Moose Jaw safe; they deserve to see them in action.

That’s where our job comes in. We ask the police to give us the tool we need to do it properly.

All Times-Herald editorials are written by the editorial staff.

Organizations: Moose Jaw Police Service, Times-Herald, Moose Jaw Fire Department

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, High Street West, First Avenue Northwest

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