Residents are fighting property crime through Block Watch efforts. (File photo)

Block watch helps North Okanagan residents fight crime

Crime prevention groups help reduce property crime

In some communities, police and city officials have identified property crime as a significant reason for a spike in reported crimes. Crimes such as theft from vehicles, burglary, and vandalism tend to be driving statistics to a new level.

In Vernon, our city has chosen to engage its residents to be part of the solution to these types of crimes. By developing Crime Prevention Groups through the Block Watch program, Vernon has educated and trained more than 4,000 residents to be the best witnesses they can be for the RCMP and each other.

“Community safety is a priority in Vernon,” said Regan Borisenko, Crime Prevention coordinator, “and through our crime prevention programming, we have engaged 87 Crime Prevention Neighbourhoods that use the structure and training from the Block Watch program to be extra eyes and ears for the North Okanagan RCMP. Participants are encouraged to report suspicious and criminal behaviour to police when they see it.”

READ MORE: Armstrong’s property crime stands out in North Okanagan

In the training sessions to become certified Neighbourhood Crime Prevention Groups, residents are taught what criminal behaviour looks like and when and how to report it to police. These groups are empowered to look after each other and their neighbourhoods and to recognize what doesn’t belong.

Vernon has chosen to build local capacity and strong resident-driven networks to implement a proactive measure, the Block Watch program, to help decrease criminal activity and victimization or harm.

“Vernon residents want to feel safe in their own communities,” said Jim Popowich, Captain of 20 Crime Prevention groups at Predator Ridge. “Here in Predator Ridge, we are working on a coordinated response to preventing crime and creating community awareness through the Block Watch program, as well as emergency response programs through the Fire Department like FireSmart.

“Partnerships like these with the Community Safety Unit encourage and promote community leadership and participation in crime prevention. The education and knowledge we learn as participants in the program help us be more aware of our security and what to watch out for,” said Popowich.

To learn more, contact the Community Safety Unit – Crime Prevention at www.vernon.ca.

READ MORE: ‘We need to do more’: minister on middle class squeeze in Vernon


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