Safety by making neighbourhood connections Exploring solutions by bringing crime prevention and safety to street level

Neighbourhoods often know their safety concerns, but achieving solutions can be elusive. That was met head on by Parkdale Cromdale Community League (PCCL) board last month with their Safety Initiative.

The community has seen some rise in crime, said Richard Williams, PCCL vice president, and discussion addressing it started with the Safety Whistle campaign.

The Safety Whistle campaign is a deterrent to violence without witnesses.

“A similar safety whistle campaign has been very successful in Chile, and it’s also on many university campuses across North America,” said Alyssa Miller, PCCL communications director.

This whistle is part of Parkdale Cromdale Community League’s crime reduction initiative. | Kate Wilson

Safety whistles will be given to PCCL members upon membership renewal, to community members who cannot afford a membership, and to people outside of the community with a membership from their community league.

The Safety Initiative, held Aug. 27, included a self-defense workshop, a round table discussion with city staff, and a potluck.

“We thought we should have a discussion with community members, get their feedback – what are the issues, what is our role to help the community feel safe,” explained Miller. “Community building is important, which is why we held the potluck. The larger your network, the more you feel safe. We want to build a small town attitude in the city.”

The theme of community connectedness infused discussion. Closing communication gaps among community members is critical.

“If you know your neighbours, you’re more likely to protect each other,” said Gurjeet Sangha, community safety liaison with the city.

The Safe Communities Lawn Sign encourages people to call Crimestoppers if they see suspicious or criminal behaviour. | Kate Wilson

Discussion focused on problems associated with delinquent landlords. Judy Allan, the city’s Avenue Initiative Coordinator, said a problem properties task force is collecting information on this issue.

Participants also discussed ways to reach marginalized groups and individuals.

Consistency is important for helping these people, said Sebastian Barrera, PCCL president. He suggested a part-time social worker may be helpful.

“PCCL has the space, let’s put the community centre to use for the community,” said Barrera. “We can bridge gaps that the government alone is not achieving.”

Sangha provided information on the Lawn Sign campaign. Jointly run by the city and Edmonton Police Services (EPS), the signs are a deterrent against crime and encourage residents to report suspicious behaviour. They’re also intended to promote a sense of community.

Overall, the day was deemed a success.

“We’re really happy with the turnout,” said Miller. “Within two hours of advertising it we had registrants. People were saying they want this.”

Featured Image: Steven Townsend, Katharine Laurie, Theresa Garskey, Tamie Perry, and Kelly Helfenstien. In front: Adil Muhammad, Richard Williams, Sebastian Bererra, Alyssa Miller, Shazia Muhammad and Ester Eiler. | Kate Wilson

Kate Wilson

Kate took up the reporter's pad and pen while living in northern Alberta. The writing bug stuck, and the next 20 years were spent covering everything from local politics to community happenings. She lives in Alberta Avenue with her daughter.

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