Thursday, July 18, 2024
News

Snap a pic to keep your kids safe

CALEB NICKERSON
It’s the kind of thing that keep’s parents up at night. In the midst of an otherwise enjoyable outing, they look around and discover that little Pierre or Pierrette has disappeared from sight.
This year at the Fair, the . . .

local police are trying out a new initiative to speed up the process of finding lost children.
“It’s an idea that I had after doing the fair so many years,” explained Sûreté du Québec Sgt. Yves Martineau. “I’ve done 26, I think. I’m starting to have experience.”
He said that children getting separated from their parents is a fairly common occurrence, especially at a crowded event with so many activities like the fair. When the police or security guards attempt to find the children, often the parents don’t recall many details.
“They’re in a shock, they’re in panic [mode],” Martineau said. “They don’t remember how he was dressed or if she had a hat or how their hair was done.”
His novel solution is to encourage parents to snap a photo of their kids while they’re waiting in line to get in. At each entrance there will be signs with height markings to use as a background, Martineau explained.
“We’ll be able to take the picture from your phone and in seconds, 40 people will have a description and picture to look for this kid on the grounds,” he said, noting that all police, security, gate staff and fair board directors can be notified with the push of a button, increasing the likelihood of a speedy recovery.
The idea isn’t just for children, but could also be useful for caretakers of the elderly or people who become lost or confused easily. Martineau said that that the current protocol when a person is reported missing is to block all the exits until they are found, which can cause logistical headaches as well.
“If we have a kid missing, we don’t let anyone out of the gates,” he said. “I know, since I’ve done that, there was some frustration … Some people don’t care, if it doesn’t’ affect them, they don’t care.”
Martineau said that when there was excessive noise, like during the truck pull or a concert, it can be extremely aggravating to pass along descriptions via radio, especially if they are vague. He has high hopes that the new system will be much more efficient.
On a separate note, he reminded that while this is the first Shawville Fair since cannabis was legalized, attendees will be prohibited from toking up once inside the gates. In addition to hired security, he said there will be police presence on the grounds, including those in plain clothes.
“It’s a family event, I know that it’s legal now, but if you want to smoke your marijuana, there’s a place for that,” he said. “If people don’t listen, I was given the right by the fair board to expel people and cut their bracelets. If you don’t want to go by the majority rules, well we’re going to ask you to go elsewhere.”
The fine for smoking (either cannabis or tobacco) in a prohibited place varies depending on the circumstances, but ranges from $250 to $750.
Martineau said that once the festivities wind up for the evening, police monitor the parties going on at local bars and revellers in the streets.
“Phase one is the fair for me, and phase two is in town,” he said. “After [the fair] everyone goes to the downtown bar.”
He added that the weather is the biggest determining factor for how busy they will be, as people clear out earlier and are less prone to party when it’s cold or rainy.