Just over two weeks ago the first community meeting was held to discuss the re-establishment of a Citizens on Patrol (COP) group in Lacombe.
Spearheaded by a long-time resident, the group appears to be on the right path — encouraging residents to get to know their neighbours in order to prevent crime.
Knowing your community and neighbours seems to be the key in crime prevention throughout Alberta. The COP approach is very similar to chatting with your neighbour over a cup of coffee, taking the time to get to know someone, connect and discuss what’s going on in the community, in your neighbourhood.
Although the group will need several meetings to form and rouse into action, the group of engaged citizens are taking the proactive steps needed towards taking the community back.
Much like Lacombe Police Service (LPS) Chief Steve Murray said during the first meeting, a lot of crime prevention comes down to mere presence. He noted that by LPS officers doing regular patrols in areas of the City that have higher crime rates, they have seen a decrease in criminal mischief.
Like Murray mentioned, the more people who are out and about, making their presence known in the community, like on bike paths, parks, playgrounds and throughout neighbourhoods, crime rates can be reduced.
Rural crime watch groups, like the Benalto and Area Rural Crime Watch Society and the Maskepetoon Rural Crime Watch, have been in existence for many years, and strive to actively prevent crime in their rural communities, alongside partnerships with the RCMP and County peace officers.
The provincial Rural Crime Watch Program was established in the early 80s and involves hundreds of crime prevention groups all across Alberta.
Although each group is unique, with varying numbers of members, each group has the exact same yellow sign they can post along roadways and in front of yards, alerting passersby that someone out there is watching and that there is an active crime watch group operating in the area.
Just the mere placement of a sign has been proven to deter crime. It should be a welcome sign when you drive into a community and see a yellow rural crime watch sign along the road. That signs shows that the people in the area care and are watching.
COP is not about vigilantism, but much like the rural crime watch motto, keeping your eyes and ears open to things you see on your street.
See something suspicious or abnormal in your neighbourhood or community? Report it to law enforcement or the right agency. Discuss it with your neighbour. Dare to care and get to know your community.