“Crime Prevention… It’s everyone’s business”


crimebeatTHUNDER BAY – Crimebeat – “Crime Prevention… It’s everyone’s business”, that is the message from the Ontario Provincial Police. From November 6th to 12th, it is Crime Prevention Week. The OPP have taken new approaches bringing traditional policing in line with modern technology. The OPP have added a multi-media component to their arsenal to fight crime, as well as including the strategic use of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. The goal is to engage with the general public and make the communities that they serve far safer.

In a statement, The OPP share that the service “Recognizes the need to utilize technology in its delivery of innovative crime prevention strategies to help engage communities in the prevention of crime. Public awareness and education initiatives are a part of that effort. The OPP appear to be doing what most innovative police services across North America are doing – reaching people where they are most likely to hear the message.

As well, the OPP also provides a variety of school-based and community-based programs designed to provide awareness and prevention tips for safe cyber experiences for children. With more than 94 per cent of children accessing the Internet at home, technology and innovation are paramount to effectively addressing current Internet issues for kids such as netiquette, cyberbullying, security, privacy, risqué texting and gaming. Internet Exploitation & Threats Prevention is one of a number of important objectives carried out by the OPP Youth Issues Unit and the OPP recently teamed up with the Ontario Physical Health and Education Association (Ophea) to launch Connect[ED]; Real Life Online, an important new program that educates students, teachers and parents about Internet safety.

“Through innovation and technology, by educating communities and being proactive in the reduction of crime, the OPP remains dedicated to eliminating the opportunity for crime in support of the OPP’s vision of Safe communities – A Secure Ontario”.

Modern Policing is increasingly finding that online opportunties to engage with the public which they serve provides the ability to build relationships with the public. It is something that in Ontario can be seen in the increased online presence of the Toronto Police Service. It also presents an opportunity for law enforcement to engage with younger people, some who might not respond to more traditional approaches.

The transition to modern police communications has taken new approaches. Toronto Police Chief Blair states that “It is important to join a conversation that is taking place. We know we have to be a part of it.”

Blair adds, “One of the hallmarks of effective policing is effective communications”. The OPP and the Toronto Police Service are finding that online, and on Social Media. So too have modern police services across Canada including Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and in Northern Ontario, Sault Ste. Marie.

Sault Ste. Marie has also expanded their police presence online. One of the tools on the Sault Ste. Marie Police website is the online reporting of crimes. This does not provide for online reporting of serious or ongoing serious crimes, but takes issues like property crimes, thefts from vehicles, theft under $5000, theft of licence plates and other crimes of similar nature.

What that does for the Sault Ste. Marie Police is allow officers to effectively plan their schedule in responding to those reports during times when it is not as busy and during non-peak police demand times.

The efforts by the Sault Ste. Marie Police involved a new website design that provides for the secure sharing of information. Residents in the community are encouraged to engage with residents online. There is a sign-up page where people can get regular updates from the SSMPS. Adrienne Harris of the SSMPS commenting on the website said, “I am still surprised how easy this is to use! …So efficient and so easy!” The SSMPS has engaged a website developer with the goal of having the site designed so that internal updates can be easily done in-house, meaning faster updates and lower costs.

The work also means working with other police agencies in engaging the public. The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service and the Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Provincial Police are inviting parents to take “I.S.S.U.E.” with them on the 9th, 10th and 14th of November 2011.

“Take I.S.S.U.E. (Internet Safety and Sensible Use of Electronics)” is a community-based police initiative promoting responsible and safe internet/electronic device use and cyber social interaction. The focus of this program is to provide awareness for parents, youthsand educational providers in order to highlight the various dangers associated with our rapidly developing technology. In doing they are striving to prevent the victimization of our youth and inspire healthy, responsible and safe cyber habits.

Is the approach working? In Sault Ste. Marie, a city of 74,948, over the past five years, crime is down twenty per cent.

Effective and modern communications make the job of any police service easier. Likely over the coming years, residents in many other communities will see their police services boosting their online presence.

James Murray
Chief Content Officer

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