Airdrie RCMP's Mochas With Mounties (MWM) is making a comeback in a virtual setting after the public engagement initiative was put on hold earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Cpl. Gina Slaney with the detachment, residents will be able to submit questions they may have about local policing via email and officers will answer the queries in a Facebook video at the end of September. Questions can be submitted to KAirdrieServices@rcmp-grc.gc.ca in the next two weeks with the subject line "Mochas with Mounties."
“We wanted to find a way to connect with the community,” Slaney said. “We know people initially complained about the times we offered Mochas With Mounties, so we thought this would be a way to reach everybody. Anyone who has a question can definitely send it in and we’ll answer it as best we can.”
The detachment introduced MWM in February 2019 as a way for Airdonians to meet local police officers and ask them questions face-to-face in an informal setting. The monthly meet-ups were held at local cafés, inspiring the name.
In the inaugural year, Slaney said questions focused on the RCMP's recruitment process, how to resolve neighbourhood disputes, the local detachment's priorities and other policing matters.
“[Residents] loved the opportunity to meet with members, get to know them on a more personal basis and ask certain questions they had regarding policing,” Slaney said. “The only issue we had was that many more people wanted to attend but couldn’t because it was hosted at 10 a.m. on a weekday. Hopefully, this will resolve that for the time being.”
After announcing Sept. 16 that MWM would be returning, Slaney said the detachment received eight questions from residents within the first 24 hours. Those questions focused on a range of topics, from traffic rules to the detachment’s operations.
“We had one gentleman email in and he’s asking a lot of questions about our budget, where we get our money and what kind of resources we provide the city,” she said. “That will be an interesting one to answer and we certainly can answer that.”
RCMP is partnering with the City of Airdrie on the initiative, Slaney said, and will broadcast the video from the municipality’s Facebook page.
She added the video will also introduce the community to Airdrie RCMP’s new detachment commander, Insp. Lauren Weare. Weare joined from the Cochrane detachment and replaced Insp. Kim Pasloske, who accepted a position at the RCMP Depot Division in Regina, Sask. in August.
If the first virtual MWM is successful, Slaney said Airdrie RCMP will consider holding the virtual Q&A again in the near future.
“We do prefer to be out in public, but because of COVID, we thought this would be a good opportunity to do a virtual MWM,” she said.