THUNDER BAY – With the terrible news of a murder of a 16 year old child this week, marking the third murder in under a month, and with charges laid against two teenage girls, many citizens are thinking of ways we can turn the corner on crime.
On September 29th, the city will launch the Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council. This panel will bring together experts to talk about what to do. Realistically, a bigger part of what is needed to make positive change will come when as citizens; we all decide that enough is enough. This council is not a bad idea, but the timing coming in the middle of the civic election, it could appear as a political reaction as much as it is a definite move forward.
It is time for real action. Instead of waiting for the politicians to move, or waiting for the police chief to act, it is time to assist the police in their task. That means many things.
First, a solution can be found in neighbours getting to know each other again. Sadly in today’s world, often neighbours do not know the other people living in their neighbourhood. People getting to know each other, and then watch over each other is a good step forward to building better communities.
Residents should make it a point to meet their neighbours. Building relationships that allow each other to look out for each other will help cut down on the small crimes.
Second, it is likely time for a community walk, and co-ordinated community policing. A police presence in neighbourhoods makes a difference. Having police in the neighbourhoods, walking a beat, talking with the people and engaging the youth will not only build better relations with the community, but it will deter crime.
When Duane “Dog” Chapman was in Thunder Bay this past June, one of the messages was that people can take back our community. Beth Chapman said that people can photograph, video tape, and document crimes, especially drug related crimes, in their neighbourhood. Then they can send that evidence to the police.
People can take our neighbourhoods back from the drug dealers.
Having residents more aware in their neighbourhoods can be a joint effort with the Thunder Bay Police Service administration, and the public with the help of the media. In Thunder Bay it will likely take replacing Chief Herman’s Executive Officer, and allowing the official police spokesperson to be the Chief or Deputy Chief.
The savings of over $100,000.00 in salary alone could put another officer on the streets.
Third, it is time that Police Chief Herman had a “Back to the Future” moment and started taking a shift on the streets with his officers. Such a move would engage the Chief more directly with both his officers, but equally importantly the residents of our city.
It may well mean that Chief Herman will have to give up some of his extra-curricular duties including the Presidency of the Ontario Association of Chief of Police. After all, the Chief’s responsibility isn’t to be a political animal; it is to be working for the taxpayers of Thunder Bay.
Finally it is time that the Thunder Bay Police Service realized that the Internet is not going away. The Internet seems to be almost an inconvenience to far too many in the Police Administration.
The TBPS have launched some really positive steps online, but they seem not to be either supported or even fully understood. It is time for a Facebook presence that the public can see online. A TBPS Fan page on Facebook would allow residents to get updates from police, and know what is going on.
Next the Police should have an online means for citizens to contact them. In other cities residents can report non-emergency situations online to the police.
In Calgary for example, “This system allows you to submit and print a police report if one of the following has happened to you within the City of Calgary and you do not know who did it:
- You have lost or have had stolen something that is worth less than $5,000(not including firearms, licence plates or government-issued funds or identification).
(Lost Property or Theft under $5,000)
- Your property or vehicle has been vandalized.
(Damage/Mischief to Property or Vehicle under $5,000)
- Your vehicle has been broken into.
(Theft from Vehicle under $5,000)”
Such a program could free up valuable resources, and allow our ever increasingly Internet savvy citizens to report these less serious crimes.
Using technology, in Thunder Bay, there could be many tools that the TBPS could bring to bear to help make our community safer.
It will either be up to Chief Herman, or perhaps his successor to implement new ideas, and set new directions. Voters and taxpayers in our city are likely to demand no less.