One of the things that crime does to a community is make them feel powerless and untrusting. Theft and trespassing have been on the rise all over Alberta and this has caused a lot of residents to wonder what they can do. Here are some suggestions from the Town of Fairview Council and our local RCMP.
Make sure you call in reports to the proper authorities
Community appearance and comfort concerns go to Bylaw Enforcement, criminal matters go the RCMP. Call often and call every time. Don’t be discouraged if nothing seems to happen. Sometimes it takes a while for the legal wheels to process the complaints. If you want to know, ask the officer what is going on. They may not be able to tell you details but may be able to educate you on the process or why its take time to get the situation resolved. Report these things on social media groups as well to keep your neighbours informed if you wish, but don’t make social media the only place you report it. Official organizations such as the RCMP or your municipal government will not action reports posted to social media.
Educate yourself about available resources
We have wonderful resources available within our smaller community. Professional organizations such as Victim Services or the Crossroads Resource Centre can be a great resource for those who have been a victim of a crime or living in crisis. Look into tools like Lightcatch that can help document crimes in progress or track stolen property. This can provide the RCMP the valuable information they need to press charges.
Educate yourself on the law
The Queen’s printer has all the Alberta Acts and Regulations. These are a good start but are often difficult to navigate as many Acts and Regulations tie into others and rely on case law to guide how the law is applied. Check official sources (such as the canada.ca, alberta.ca and fairview.ca websites) for more guidance or contact a lawyer. Law enforcement professionals may be able to help but are not authorized to interpret the law for you or provide legal guidance. Town bylaws only apply within town limits, other municipalities bylaws must be referenced for areas outside of town.
Don’t blame the people
Everyone agrees that there are some flaws in the systems. Don’t take this out on the professionals that work within these systems. Every person that we have had the opportunity to work with, in the official organizations of our community is a dedicated, caring, and professional individual; trying to do their best within the rules established by the system.
Be an advocate for change
If you think the system needs to change, don’t just complain about it on social media or at the coffee shop. Write a letter or request a meeting with the authorities that oversee that system or have the power to effect change in it.
Support your law enforcement professionals
Law enforcement is a difficult profession and they deserve our respect for trying to help us out by risking their lives for us. They have to make difficult decisions and diffuse dangerous situations every day. That person you think may be a thief and a drug user? They have to go to that person’s house, interview them and treat them professionally, all the while keeping alert for hazards to safety. They have the frustrating task of filling out hours of paperwork to document investigations. You’re not always going to agree with the decisions they make or be happy about the tickets that you get. Support them anyways, they are trying their best.
Don’t forget to look for the good!
Focusing on anything negative can make you believe that only bad things are happening. Help be the change for good by encouraging good, not just focusing on the bad. Organize a block party to get to know your neighbours, have a Lightcatch learning session where you sit down with a neighbour to install it and figure out how to use it, help a senior in your neighbourhood shovel their walk, plan a community event, get involved with an established community organization. You’ll help everyone to realize that yes, bad things are going on, but there are many good things going on as well and help everyone to build back trust in their neighbours that may have been lost.