Pitt Meadows became the newest community in B.C. to adopt a City Watch program Monday morning.
The CUPE B.C.-sponsored program seeks to prevent and reduce crime in the province’s municipalities, while also building a stronger sense of community.
“City Watch makes safer communities, which equals stronger communities,” CUPE B.C. Secretary-Treasurer Mark Hancock said while introducing the program Monday outside the Pitt Meadows Community Policing Office against the playful screams of children playing in the neighbouring daycare.
“It’s about working together and looking at what can be achieved.”
Standing in front of a white van, Pitt Meadows Mayor Don MacLean placed the first City vehicle sticker on it.
Local CUPE employees will work with the Ridge Meadows RCMP to train members on how to identify and document suspicious or criminal activities in the neighbourhoods, encouraging a general awareness to suspicious activities.
The program emphasizes watching and reporting over intervening. Residents are also encouraged to watch out for their community.
According to MacLean, most of the crime in Pitt Meadows is what he calls opportunity crimes, like unlocked car doors or exposed valuable items.
“A crime only needs three things: a criminal, a victim, and an opportunity,” said MacLean. “This program takes that opportunity away.”
The implementation of the program resulted in lower crime rates in the nearly 30 B.C. communities that have already adopted it, according to Hancock.
Sixty CUPE employees, in addition to the current police presence, who drive the streets of Pitt Meadows will watch for unusual behaviour.
“I think it’ll make a difference,” said Teddy Rasmussen, CUPE Local 622 Chief Stop Steward. “Just knowing we’re out there will be enough to deter potential criminals.”
Increased presence on the streets is one part of the program. CUPE B.C. will continue to take feedback from local and community members about how the program can adopt to the specific needs of the area.
For one, MacLean would like to see training for council.
“We’re out and about in the community as well, so it’d be good if we could be trained,” said MacLean. “It’s all an effort to make the community more pedestrian-friendly. As a community becomes more pedestrian friendly, the crime rate decreases.”