Crime prevention seminar causes heated debate

Crime trends of Edmonton seem to make their way to Ponoka and area.

Crime trends of Edmonton seem to make their way to Ponoka and area.

This was an observation mentioned by RCMP Staff Sgt. Cameron Chisholm and members of the Edmonton Police Service; Sgt. Daryl Mahoney and Const. Jody Ponto at a crime prevention presentation made at the Ponoka police station, June 20.

Chisholm said the presentation was being hosted in result of crime statistics in Ponoka.

Members of various liquor stores were in attendance, as well as Jim Hamilton of Hamilton’s IGA and Hammy’s Spirits, to learn tips and strategies on crime prevention.

Mahoney and Ponto named many things that merchants should do to deter criminals from taking advantage of their establishments. They mentioned only one thing that shouldn’t be done—retaliation and pursuit.

Ponto told the story of a man who’d run after a thief and died of stab wounds which were inflicted by another who was waiting outside. “Don’t interject yourself any more than you have to.”

Hamilton, however, made it known he said would pursue with firearms if the need arose.

This was seen as extreme by the Mahoney and Ponto. “If you want us to help, you have to report it,” said Mahoney.

Ponto warned Hamilton, and everyone in the room, that taking matters into their own hands in that manner would result in criminal consequences.

Despite hearing thefts aren’t always top priority with police, something they already knew, attendees at the presentation were exposed to several strategies that can combine to make their business less attractive to criminals.

Ponto said three factors need to be in place for a crime to occur, take one of those factors away and the crime likely won’t take place.

The factors are: target, opportunity and desire. While desire can’t always be taken away opportunities can, and targets can be fortified and camouflaged.

Purchase a colour, digital security system. Police will be able to accomplish facial recognition from a colour source rather than a black and white one. Have a system that records too. This way a crime can be reviewed. Cameras should also be mounted at eye level for better facial recognition.

Cameras should also be placed in parking lots to capture license plates. Create clean lines of visibility from one side of the building to the other, and from the inside to the outside. This will allow business owners to see a potential problem coming and allow others to see in and help if a theft or other problem was happening.

Lighting was something Ponto stressed. Businesses should be using LED or metal halide lights, as they emit white light to aid colour identification of clothing and vehicles. They also reduce facial shadows.

Cash offices should be equipped with a panic alarm and an emergency exit.

Ponto also urged business owners to share information and suspects between themselves and other liquor stores of Ponoka.

He suggested that a central information chain should be set up through the chamber of commerce, something Chisholm agreed with.