Crime is a problem in every country, province, city and town, regardless of one’s geographic location or an area’s estimated population. When residents and the police work together, however, the crime rate is proven to significantly drop – reason enough to get the Rural Crime Watch program up and running in Ponoka again.
Anyone interested in becoming a Rural Crime Watch member is asked to attend an information session scheduled to take place on Thursday, Jan. 22 at the classroom in the Ponoka Fire hall. If there is enough interest to run the program, meetings will take place once a month from then on.
“The initial meeting is to assess the interest level in the community for such a program,” said Const. Cory Burton of the Ponoka RCMP – the programs liaison. “After the initial meeting, there will be a second meeting to elect the executive and those elected and the other members will run the program,” he said.
The program’s ideology is simple and very effective. Its goal is to reduce the amount of rural crime committed in the rural area and to also create a bond between rural community members. Members of the group are asked to contact the police when suspicious occurrences are observed in the rural community and to keep and eye on their neighbour’s property when neighbours are away from the area.
Aside from residents helping one another, the police are eager to get involved by providing their services to the best of their ability as well.
“The police will provide ‘fan outs’ which is information sent from police to the rural community of particular problems or occurrences of criminal behaviour in the rural area, which in turn may have been witnessed by a community member which could assist police in solving any rural crime,” said Burton. “The Crime Watch program is similar to that of the ‘Citizens of Patrol’ except Crime Watch involves the rural community and not the Town of Ponoka.”
The program was up and running in the past but failed. A lack of “fan outs” provided by the police and lack of communication between group members lead to frustrations, but Burton strongly believes in the program’s success.
“I know there are some hard feelings in the community regarding this program from the membership in regards to past events, but I’m fully aware of some of the past problems and hopefully can provide a solution. Past members are welcome to voice their frustrations and hopefully these issues can be overcome and we can revitalize the program,” he said.
Questions or concerns can also be directed to acting president, Stan Goddard, who will be glad to provide any answers he can. He moved to Ponoka roughly two years ago and, after experiencing great success with the same program in his previous community, he is eager to get it up and running once again. He can be reached by phoning (403) 783-2343 or 403-704-6581.