November 12, 2015 - 11:30 AM
KAMLOOPS - The Block Watch program is relatively new in the city, but several neighbourhoods have already jumped on board, either to crack down on criminal activity or prevent it.
The Sahali Community Association, a group of Lower Sahali residents, is the latest neighbourhood group hoping to take part in the city-wide initiative.
Jon Wilson, Community Safety and Enforcement Manager, says the program began last year and had slow uptake to start, but there are now several successful watch groups in the city. Once enough people sign on for the watch and it’s recognized by the community policing department, the city provides the block with decals to put on houses and a Block Watch sign.
Beyond Block Watch, Citizens on Patrol and neighbourhood groups are also keeping an eye on their areas.
“It’s hard to gauge (if it’s deterred crime),” Wilson says. “When you see Block Watch signs posted I think people looking to engage in suspicious behaviour are probably deterred. The program was prompted by people who were victimized by crime, but now we’re seeing people engage on a proactive basis."
Sandro Piroddi, who works with Community Policing to help manage the program, educates block captains on which methods work best. He says not only has the initiative helped neighbours get to know one another, but it’s also deterred criminal activity. Piroddi says he’s heard a woman decided to act as a captain and they were able to stop drug dealing activity in her Brocklehurst neighbourhood.
“After practicing crime prevention they’ve noticed a reduction in traffic,” Piroddi says.
Those hoping to take the project on must get at least 70 per cent of those living on the block to agree to the program, with organizers undergoing a criminal record check. Once signed up, Piroddi will present to group members and provide them with a map of the area highlighting participants' houses. Part of the training includes learning more about how to be a witness, when to call police and how to properly document and report criminal activity. Piroddi says while most RCMP officers won’t launch full investigations on minor thefts, it’s important to still report the activity and inventory missing items as it could provide police with intelligence on future investigations.
“It can also get a crime analyst to see if a small thing turns into a big thing," Piroddi says. “Policing is reactive."
To learn more about creating a block watch in your area, contact Piroddi by calling 250-571-3862 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at email@example.com, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015