An area neighbourhood watch association is celebrating nearly three decades of work.
The Strathcona County Crime Watch Association celebrated its 28th anniversary in December. Since 1994, the association has served as an extra set of eyes and ears for the Strathcona County RCMP.
The program was spearheaded by John Fuga and Corporal Ben Wilkowski of the then Sherwood Park RCMP. Many will remember John Fuga travelling around Alberta to deliver his “Wise Owl” lectures to seniors.
Currently, there are 445 Crime Watch Members and 107 Business Watch Members. The goal of both programs is to have as many citizens as possible aware of criminal or suspicious activity in the area.
Over the years, Crime Watch has worked in cooperation with the local RCMP to deliver presentations on a number of topics, including theft prevention, fraud, scams, firearms legislation, and others. The association has focused on working with seniors and sharing trends in scams and fraud prevention.
When Crime Watch began, fan-outs of important information were done by telephone with a system called “Big Mouth.” The system used several phone lines and could often take hours to dial up the detachment’s 1,500 members. Several years ago, the system was upgraded, and now Mounties receive all fan-outs immediately via email.
“The more well informed our citizens are, the less likely criminal activity will occur and, if it does occur, the more likely it will be solved,” wrote the Strathcona County RCMP in a release. “Simply put, Crime Watch is being more aware of your home and neighbourhood and reporting any suspicious activities to the police. This includes both rural and urban environments. The more people we have watching over our neighbours, the safer our community will be.”
Mounties encourage the public and local businesses to join either the Crime Watch or Business Watch programs and are looking for volunteers to sit as an executive member.
No patrolling is required, as members mainly act as an extra set of eyes and ears for police and neighbours.
Anyone interested in applying for either program can find applications at the Strathcona County RCMP detachment or online at www.strathconacrimewatch.ca.