Opinion: Working together to prevent crime

Block Watch is the front line of crime prevention – a way to take ownership or your neighbourhood.

They say, “Fences make good neighbours.”

But there are times when neighbours need to break down fences (at least metaphorically) to build a stronger neighbourhood.

The Block Watch program is a good example of that. (See story.)

Under the auspices of Chilliwack Crime Prevention Services, it provides homeowners with resources and advice, aimed at keeping neighbourhoods safe.

The program isn’t new, nor is the philosophy novel. It’s all about neighbours watching out for each other, based on the belief that standing together is better than struggling alone.

It has a proven track record of reducing the incidents of crime. It’s shown that when residents take ownership of their block they are more likely to notice suspicious activity and report it to police.

They’re better equipped, better organized and more motivated to keep their neighbourhood crime free.

Criminals who see the Block Watch signs prominently posted on lamp posts, meanwhile, know that their activities are being watched a little more closely.

And those signs have to be earned; they’re not just window dressing. Residents have to commit to the program, elect a captain and co-captain, and remain an active part of the larger Block Watch community or the signs will be re-assigned to another neighbourhood.

Unfortunately, too often homeowners only think of Block Watch after a rash of thefts, or the incursion of a “problem house.”

But the program works best when introduced early. After all, it’s intended to be a pro-active tool rather that re-active.

It’s the front line of crime prevention – a way to take ownership or your neighbourhood so that you and your neighbours can live in peace and security.

With or without the fences.

To find out more about Block Watch in Chilliwack, email Jen Dueck at jen.dueck@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.