||May 27, 2005
Paying attention to crime prevention
In an article I wrote in
March 2004 looking at the history of crime prevention (Heritage Perspectives No.
172) I mentioned a proposed crime prevention conference in the area. The
Chisholm Community Policing Committee did acquire funding and a three-day
conference co-hosted by the OPP was held at Nipissing University May 13 to 15.
Community Policing is a progressive concept that supports police by forming
community committees to become the eyes and ears of the community and carryout
educational and preventative activities in cooperation with the OPP.
Community policing is an
active part of Ontario Provincial Police policy and there are dozens of
committees throughout the province. These committees have a direct connection
with the OPP and have officers on the committee to provide a direct link with
the OPP. A wide variety of activities are carried out on a pro-active basis to
prevent crime, victimization and fear of crime. The committees also react to
potential or real criminal activity through direct contact with the OPP
resulting in reduced crime statistics. Committee members always remain at arms
length to any enforcement.
Chisholm Township where I
live, has had a community policing committee, that I am a member o,f for 12
years. Among other things the committee has developed a Rural Watch Program,
which like Neighbourhood Watch provides signage and other resources to warn off
offenders and provide community support.It has spread into other rural
communities in the north.
Because of the huge cost of crime on society through victimization, policing,
justice system and the correctional system, the federal government has made
extensive funding available in such programs as Building Safer Communities (BSC).
The BSC approach is based on the development of models that change society at
the grassroots level to prevent crime.
With the Building Safer Communities model so similar in philosophy to the
Chisholm committee philosophy, we applied for a grant to promulgate this point
of view in a community policing conference for Northeastern Ontario. The aim was
to present the best thinking on issues related to youth, seniors, aboriginals
and crime prevention in general.
||Registration table at conference.
North Bay conference
The title chosen for the
North Bay conference was Community Mobilization for Crime Prevention. The goal
was to have some 150 delegates acquire advanced knowledge and skill for crime
prevention in their local communities. Working closely with the OPP, top
professionals like Greg Brown, director of the criminal justice program at
Nipissing University, were featured. Brown recently received the 2005
Chancellorís Award for Excellence in Teaching at th university.
He provided an inspiring opening session called the Long and Winding Road:
Re-discovering the Roots of Community Policing in North America where he
emphasized the early days in Ontario where policing was carried out in a
practical and human way in each community by local people. He later did a
workshop on evaluation for results a critical part of any program.
Dennis Mock, president of Nipissing and Barbara Taylor, president of Canadore
brought opening remarks to the group emphasizing the uniqueness of the
relationship between the two institutions.
Their program, which allows a student to get a relevant degree and move into the
more practical Canadore criminal justice program and vice versa, is outstanding
and significant. MP Anthony Rota and MPP Monique Smith, along with others
dignitaries, brought greetings and support.
Dennis Murray, a specialist in rural life from Mansfield University in
Pennsylvania spoke, on rural youth leadership development and community change
in another plenary session. Nipissing and Mansfield are twinned on areas of
mutual interest.Dr. Warnie Richardson and Dr. Hugh Russell also made
presentations. There were also many breakaway workshops.
Chisholm Community policing
As co-host of the conference
the Chisholm CPC did a plenary presentation on their 12-year history as an
example of the work of a progressive committee. It was chaired by Chisholm
committee chairwoman Bernadette Kerr, who was also co-chair of the conference
along with Staff Sgt. Irving Sloss of the North East Region Community Policing
Unit. Various members talked about different aspects of the Chisholm program.
Several CPC projects like their community directory sign and their rural watch
program have been adapted by other communities.
A question and answer period followed. One delegate from the community policing
committee in Round Lake told how efforts to place rural watch signs on the
highway were continuously rejected until the Minister of Transportation was
The signage was approved and
legislation is in the process of change to officially allow these signs on roads
throughout the province.
Among the 16 workshops, some
had an aboriginal component. Urban Aboriginal Challenges were discussed by Grand
Council Chief John Beaucage, and the Union of Ontario Indians communications
director Maurice Switzer. Phil Goulais, chief of Nipissing First Nations was
present. Sgt. George Couchie, from Anishinabek Police Services spoke on healthy
relationships. Stan Wesley from Bear Island led a two-part workshop on peer
All of the workshops were
well received and along with resource materials from speakers, various booths
and the OPP specialized response units set up in the parking lot everyone went
home with extensive knowledge resources to help mobilize their communities for
crime prevention throughout Northeastern Ontario.
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