Watchers in the ‘Hoods
Esquimalt Block Watch Expanding Its Fight Against Crime
By Tim Morrison
You can be confident in knowing that Esquimalt is a safe, anti-crime community with volunteers watching over your neighbourhood. My eyes opened to that fact when I recently became involved with Block Watch and was pleasantly surprised to see how active the program is in Esquimalt and how effective it is in taking a bite out of crime. Esquimalt Neighbourhood Block Watch is a partnership between local community volunteers and the Victoria Police Department (VicPD).
“A good neighbour is one of the most effective crime prevention tool ever invented,” declares the Block Watch motto. It is a simple concept. Be more aware of what is going on in your neighbourhood. Neighbours that don’t communicate with each other are prime targets for crime. An uninformed, disengaged, disconnected neighbourhood is the perfect welcome mat for criminals. Conversely, Block Watch sends a message to criminals that we are very aware and we are watching you.
Up until very recently, Esquimalt’s program had neighbourhood volunteer Block Watch Captains soley responsible for reviewing police reports and keeping their neighbours informed about all reported crimes in the area. But, now, VicPD launched a technological overall with a new, publicly-accessible, interactive CrimeReports software program.
This means that the general public can now view timely crime data for their neighbourhood by pin-pointing crimes as marked icons on an electronic map. Esquimalt and Victoria are among the first communities in B.C. and across Canada to make this crime prevention tool available to the public.
“Partnering with CrimeReports allows us to keep the public informed as to what is going on in their community. The new service even lets local citizens sign up for free customizable email alerts, so they can stay on top of crime in their neighbourhood,” says Police Chief Jamie Graham. “Information is power and we hope that giving the community this information will help them prevent crime in their neighbourhoods.”
Not only is the new technology more accessible and timelier, but it also comes very cheap.
“The CrimeReports service only costs VicPD $150 per month for over 90,000 people to be informed to the level that they would like to be informed,” says Esquimalt Block Watch volunteer Bruce Cuthbert, who has studied the program extensively and is encouraging communities throughout Canada to sign on.
“I am hoping that CrimeReports.com will help us to develop more Block Watch support and help facilitate better community awareness, community policing and partnerships towards safer communities,” adds Cuthbert. “If we pitch in and help communities that have more icons on the map to have less icons, I think all of Greater Victoria can win with a safer community.”
Over a thousand law enforcement agencies in North America use CrimeReports software to understand crime trends and share up-to-date neighborhood crime data with the public by plotting crime data on a Google-based mapping system. The public can access their local crime map and sign up for daily, weekly, or monthly email crime alerts at www.vicpd.ca or www.CrimeReports.com.
Esquimalt Block Watch has always been a valued program, but we can consider this latest reincarnation as Block Watch’s evolution into the 21st century. For criminals, know that more of us are watching you. More of us are more connected, aware and united against you.
To learn more about getting involved with the Esquimalt Block Watch program, click here: http://www.vicpdblockwatch.ca/index.html
You can also contact the VicPD Block Watch coordinator Bev Stewart by email at : email@example.com or by phone at 250-995-7409. Bev also visits the Esquimalt Police Station on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:30am to 1:30pm. The phone number at that office is 250-995-7500.