Prince Rupert's growing problem of gathering crowds of youth in the downtown area have apparently caught the attention of Mayor Jack Mussallem, at least according to a front page Daily News article in Tuesday's paper.
While we wait for the two day embargo period to pass for posting the article to the Daily's website, we'll digest some of the thoughts that the Mayor has outlined when it comes to the large crowds that frequent the downtown core on any given evening.
The Mayor has focused his thoughts on the 12-18 age group, which he feels need to be reigned in by their parents to keep them out of the bar crowd scene and away from the entrances to the local Tim Horton's and area street corners.
The first step in his plan to reduce the adolescent footprints on the downtown streets involve the return of a Community Policing program with a rebirth of the role of Community Police Officer and the D. A. R. E. program to the city's schools.
Both have been in hibernation due to funding cuts and the transfer of the officer in charge of the program back in the summer.
A second goal would be the re-introduction of the Citizens On Patrol program, which had local citizens serve as the eyes of the police, patrolling the city in cars and phoning in items of concern by cel phone to the local RCMP detachment. It ended a while back due to declining membership and an apparent decline interest of the local community.
Should that sense of antipathy towards the COPS program continue, then the Mayor suggests that the city may need to hire a private contractor for the task, which would most likely result in a tax increase for a service that he feels may be required if parents don't seem inclined to care where their teens are after the midnight hours.
The ever popular prospect of a curfew doesn't seem to hold much interest for the Mayor either, as he believes that it would not withstand the eventual court challenge that would be directed towards it if an attempt to enforce it was started.
In effect, it would seem that the Mayor is challenging parents and citizens in the community to become more involved in the problem, take some ownership of it and reduce the need for the city to have to take charge of what at times seems to be Prince Rupert's main preoccupation when the sun goes down.
The full Daily News article complete with interviews with some local youth on the issue should be available for reading on the Daily's website on Thursday.