By Mike Morris
With Crime Prevention Week in British Columbia just finished, I want to thank everyone, in and out of uniform, whose efforts have helped to make our communities safer – and to encourage others to get involved.
The contributions made by thousands of peace officers each year are invaluable, and my ministry formally recognizes, in a number of ways, the exceptional work and sacrifices made by these professionals. Their efforts are supported by countless volunteers – and each year at this time, as will happen last week, we honour some of B.C.’s most exceptional crime-prevention volunteers.
Crime Stoppers is among the best-known, most enduring groups dedicated to helping to solve crimes of all kinds, from gang-related shootings to acts of vandalism. Their prominent “wanted” ads, information-seeking re-enactments, and 24/7 anonymous tip lines have helped to bring many dangerous criminals safely into custody and solve many serious crimes.
In support of these efforts – and a significant, multimedia campaign that will launch next year – our government has recently committed another $450,000 to Crime Stoppers.
Block Watch offers another opportunity to get involved, right where you live. The small time commitment required of a Block Watch captain can pay many dividends: a chance to get to know your neighbours, have them look out for you and your property as you do for them and theirs, and receive helpful information and timely updates from your local police.
As a bonus, your home insurer may provide a discount on your annual premium if you’re part of an active Block Watch program.
In many communities, becoming a Speed Watch volunteer is another way to make your local streets safer. Join up, don a vest, hold a radar gun and, using a large display, let drivers know how fast they’re going.
You may help make local children safer by monitoring school and play-ground zones, or help prevent serious injuries by watching known, high-crash locations. I know many seniors find Speed Watch a fulfilling way to become involved in promoting safety; the hours they dedicate helped this program to speed-check nearly 300,000 vehicles in 2014.
Of course, as an observant driver, cyclist or pedestrian, you can help police to save lives on our roads by reporting dangerous driving behaviours – particularly signs of impairment, distracted driving and excessive speeding.
But please remember, if you’re travelling alone and need to use a handheld device to report behaviour, make sure you have safely pulled over before making that call.
There are many other ways to help ensure the safety of you, your friends and your family. For example, the RCMP and many independent municipal police departments offer online tips on personal safety, protecting your home and business, and road safety.
You may also want to call the non-emergency line of your local police, to inquire about crime-prevention services they may offer, such as a safety audit to help you crime-proof your home.
Mike Morris is the Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety.