Keeping everyone in the loop, Neighbours watching out for each other

dave-brett-qpra

All it takes is the rumour of burglars ransacking your neighbours’ homes to find out how strong – or weak – the local grapevine is.

The president of the Queen’s Park Residents Association, David Brett, found out that bad news really does travel fast, when folks started sending out emails warning of a “rash” and “string” of thefts in the neighbourhood recently.

The emails triggered a bit of a panic in the neighbourhood leading Brett to take a closer look at the issue of communication, particularly about crime, in his community.

“The neighbourhood needs to come up with a strategy to broaden the communication, because I sit on the policing committee and often I don’t hear about things that are happening in the neighbourhood because they don’t have my email address or I don’t have theirs,” he said.

In this instance, Brett took action and shared his concerns at the city’s community policing committee meeting in January.

At the meeting, it was decided that representatives from the New Westminster Police Department would speak directly with residents in order to clear the air on what was happening in Queen’s Park.

About 40 to 50 residents, along with Deputy Chief Laurin Stenerson and Shelley Cole, coordinator of the department’s crime prevention unit, attended a meeting of Feb. 16 to discuss the break-ins in Queen’s Park.

“As it turns out, the actual number of break-and-enters in the neighbourhood, the police would not consider to be a rash of break-ins but somewhat in keeping with normal levels,” Brett said.

While there were about six break-ins reported to police in January, three of them were break-ins to garages or outbuildings and not actual homes. Police also told residents that it’s common to see a rise in break-ins right after the holidays, when thieves know there are new, and often expensive, items in homes.

According to Cole, the best way to improve communication and protect your neighbourhood is by joining Block Watch.

“Getting involved in a neighbourhood strategy that everybody looks out for one another, watches over people’s homes and communicates with the police department, is definitely on the radar,” she added.

Brett said most blocks in Queen’s Park are part of the program, but each vary in how active they are in circulating crime prevention notices sent out by police, which is why he is encouraging everyone in the neighbourhood to sign up for email alerts from the residents’ association.

“Neighbourhood-wide communication is hard to achieve. It’s not an easy thing to get an email list for 500 residents,” he said.

Despite the challenge facing Brett, he is encouraging residents of Queen’s Park to visit the association’s website at http://www.qpra.org and sign up for email alerts.

“People don’t realize they have a voice on important committees through their residents’ associations,” he said. “That’s our challenge and that’s our job. We have to make sure that people know that we’re alive and well, and that we exist.”

© Royal City Record

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