COMMENT: Residents, not just police, have a role to play in community safety

One morning earlier this year, residents living near A. Lorne Cassidy school in Crossing Bridge woke up to find broken beer bottles and garbage all over the school’s playground.

The residents had a powerful response: they grabbed work gloves and garbage bags, and cleaned up the mess.

They didn’t wait for city staff to clean it up, they didn’t point fingers and complain about it on Facebook.  They cleaned it up themselves, and in doing so sent a message to whoever caused the damage in the first place: we care about our community.

I keep hearing that residents are concerned with safety in Stittsville. There have been a number of bad vandalism incidents in the past few months. Shad Qadri says it was one of the top issues he heard about when campaigning last fall.

So I was disappointed to see that only three residents (plus our StittsvilleCentral.ca reporter) attended a community safety meeting hosted by Councillor Qadri on Wednesday. He deserves applause for trying to start a dialogue on community safety concerns, but I wouldn’t fault him for getting frustrated at the lack of involvement from the community.

Victor McNabney, a volunteer from Neighbourhood Watch, told the small crowd that Stittsville has two neighbourhood watches, down from eight less than a decade ago.

That echoes my experience working with the Fairwinds Community Association to get a Neighbourhood Watch going in our neighbourhood.  An example: One of our neighbours went door-to-door on her street last winter to ask residents to help start a Watch program. Only one responded.

Folks are quick to point fingers and offer up all kinds of blame on Facebook, but when it comes down to working constructively on the issue, the participation evaporates.

The police don’t have the capacity to respond to every small crime in our community, nor is it the best use of their resources.

The only long-term solution is prevention, and a great way to start is to do just what those residents in Crossing Bridge did: Role up your sleeves and get involved.

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WHAT DO YOU THINK?  Why are participation levels dropping of for Neighbourhood Watch programs?  Why was attendance so low at the community meeting?  What constructive ideas do you have for tackling community crime? Add a comment below or email feedback@stittsvillecentral.ca


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5 thoughts on “COMMENT: Residents, not just police, have a role to play in community safety”

  1. I would suggest the reason for this lack of participation is because there is not a high crime rate in Stittsville.

    Stittsville isn’t Penny Drive. We don’t have shootings, rarely homicides.

    Car and item theft, B&Es and of course drug crimes are concerning to everybody and I’m not downplaying them, but they don’t seriously concern a whole lot of people.

    If vandalism is the most serious thing in a community, nobody is going to worry.

  2. I have a different experience. last year I signed up for Neighborhood watch with Fairwind Community Association. I got a call after few days that a watch captain will touch base with me. Since than no one contacted back.

  3. I appreciate coming across this article. As a Stittsville resident for close to 3 years, had it not been for a Google search on Stittsville, I would have never come across the website stittsvillecentral.ca. that highlights some great things for those who live within the Community.

    I don’t have a concern with crime and don’t feel it’s above the norm than any other place in the city (having moved from central to south to west in 9 years). I must commend our councillor with whom I have had some personal outreach historically as it relates to the Deer Run park. I received response within 48 hours of my concern raised to include an action plan with remedies to address issues for un finished landscaping. Bravo on a leader who is action oriented! We are lucky to have him remain with us.

    My home is located in Deer Run right beside a common park. I am pleased to say that the city does a good job at the upkeep. There has been the odd Saturday morning when I take my dogs to the park and notice broken glass from beer bottles – a safe haven where children play. Having a home so close by it is within instinct that I clean the glass and move on without being vocal about it. I salt the common path from the park leading to our street. I also put up lighting for those to navigate their way through a dark park in the absence of city lighting. I have seen a father with his young son pick up garbage in the park to teach the young child good values to be endorced early on in life. These actions are positive; they are human nature; and may not necessarily captured anywhere in social media. .. but they are still occuring. We never vocalize these actions seeking credit for them. We do it because it makes sense to protect others, ourselves and our overall Community.

    Perhaps the lack of participation at the community meetings that are held are an indication that residents are not overly concerned. In addition, from someone who is married to a communications specialist, we may benefit from a more robust communications strategy to bring awareness to those affected and the options available to them to participate in such discussions. We also have to appreciate that a number of us work in the downtown area with an extensive commute which increases our travel time during the day. For example – Do our meeting times facilitate time travel from downtown and with kid picks ups later in the day? Food for thought.

    In summary, Stittsville residents care and demonstrate actions to solidify this notion although it may not be widely communicated. The Community may benefit from a communications strategy that further highlights how they can get involved. You will see me personally at a future event whether it be the meetings or food bank etc.

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