Blackfalds residents eager to address crime threat in their community

Blackfalds continues to band together to fight crime.

Blackfalds continues to band together to fight crime.

Mayor Melodie Stol said the shooting on April 2 that frightened Westbrooke Road residents has encouraged many people to step forward to help make the community safer.

“In just three weeks, we’ve pulled together a Neighbourhood Watch. We’ve got a society, an executive, and already 25 block captains have been assigned. That’s in three weeks,” Stol said on Sunday at a community fair to mark National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.

“We’ve taken a negative like that and the whole community has embraced it and turned it into a positive.”

No one was injured in the shooting in which someone fired at least two gunshots into an unoccupied vehicle outside the house.

At least one more round hit a neighbour’s house, causing more than $1,000 in damage.

Stol said Sunday’s fair was a way to educate people about crime and help prevent neighbourhood problems before they get out of hand.

“Crime is not a simple solution. Crime is so multi-level it needs multi-level solutions and events like this and the services that it’s highlighting are the solutions.”

Steve Marissink, director of victims programs with Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security, said the fair was also an opportunity to recognize the victims of crime that don’t make it into the headlines.

Since 2003, the province has increased funding for victim service units from $2 million to $9.5 million in 2009, as well as promote the development of the program, he said.

“There is now a victim services program associated with every police service and detachment in this province. Victims now have access no matter where they are,” Marissink said.

When serious incidents like the Blackfalds shooting happen, it has a tendency to create fear. But there is assistance and support available from the many hard-working victim service volunteers, Marissink said.

Gloria Derksen, victim services co-ordinator with Red Deer Rural RCMP, said her unit has received a few calls in recent weeks from people who thinking about becoming volunteers.

Currently, the unit has seven volunteers, but there’s enough work for 12 or 14.

“We’re always looking for more volunteers.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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