Participants at a recent provincial Rural Crime Watch meeting in Lacombe were encouraged to keep working together.
Red Deer/Lacombe Rural Community Crime Watch president and Lacombe County councillor Ken Wigmore said the best way to combat crime in rural Alberta is for people to look out for their neighbours and watch what is going on in their area.
He said presenters at the Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association annual general meeting and symposium, held Friday and Saturday at the Lacombe Memorial Centre, reminded people that they need to continue to look after their neighbours and build community.
“I think we failed to do that. In the past we didn’t look into our neighbour’s yard when we drove by. We weren’t aware of the vehicles in the area. We just went about our business,” said Wigmore on Tuesday.
He said communication is getting better. People are more likely to call their neighbour if they see a vehicle go into their yard, and their neighbours appreciate it.
“Before they would say you’re being nosy. Now they say thank you. Yes we had company. Thanks very much for watching out for us.”
He said Gull Lake used to have a lot of problems, but then residents started working together.
“Now they’ve set it up so basically if any strange cars come into the community, it’s out on social media. They’ll go out and even stop the person and say can I help you. What are you looking for?”
He said police can’t do it all.
“Even putting people in jail, that’s really just a place to educate them. We really need to be looking after ourselves and figuring out what we can do,” Wigmore said.
Jean Bota, Red Deer/Lacombe Rural Community Crime Watch vice-president and Red Deer County councillor, said people tell her that they know who their neighbours are. But ask them a few questions and they really don’t know much about them.
“I’m not saying we have to be on each other’s doorsteps but we need to understand who we live beside, what they do, what cars they drive,” Bota said.
“This is grassroots stuff.”
It’s important for people not to isolate themselves out of fear, which can happen, she said.
She said discussions have been held about developing a safe community strategy. The meeting confirmed that was the way to go.
“I don’t mind the war stories, but we have to start now to look for solutions. Let’s see what we can do here. As Central Albertans we can do a lot of amazing things,” Bota said.