July 26th, 2021

Lethbridge residents need to stand up against crime


By Al Beeber on June 19, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

How much has the $1 million cut to its budget affected the ability of the Lethbridge Police Service to do its job?
It’s a question that’s on the minds of many I’ve talked to in recent months, people who are fed up with the car prowling and drug crimes that are proliferating in neighbourhoods across our city.
People are angry, they’re disgusted and they want justice. Some try to pass the blame for the problems afflicting our city, our province and our country. They try to defend the actions of those who disrupt our safety by placing blaming everywhere except on the perpetrators of crime for criminal behaviours.
All these people are doing is justifying the expense of social worker jobs when we really need more police jobs.
Pardon the description, but that’s a cop-out. As I’ve written before about my own family’s personal demons, just because you’re born in the gutter doesn’t mean you have to stay there.
Lots of help is available for those who need it – but they have to make the effort to reach out for that help. We can’t keep enabling them at the expense of community safety.
There comes a time when people need to seek the help they need and society needs to quit making excuses for those who don’t and won’t.
We are all responsible for the choices we make in life and we all have to take responsibility for those actions. Some disagree and their attitudes are enabling crime, they’re enabling anti-social behaviours and they are contributing to the problems we are having.
If you do the crime, you should do the time and the only people to blame for the crime are those committing it.
So how do we address the crime that’s going on in our neighbourhoods? We band together and we stand up for our property and our neighbours. We begin policing our own streets and blocks with our eyes, our phones and our cameras and we do it by communicating with each other.
If we see suspicious vehicles parking by our houses at various times of day or night that we know don’t belong there, we write down licence plate numbers. And it should be obvious who’s up to no good. A person visiting a friend or family will park as close to that home as possible if parking is available. There’s no reason to park on a side street then surreptitiously walk down an alley to a residence as we see regularly on our block.
There is no legitimate reason for vehicles – unless they belong to a resident – to be idling in alleyways during the day or night or for people to be walking down darkened alleys at 3 a.m. unless they’re going to their own home or a convenience store or looking for a lost dog, or taking a shortcut to a walking trail or park.
No strangers have any legitimate business strolling down my alley or yours in the dark of night. As one neighbour, who does go for walks in the solitude of pre-dawn told me, the only creatures he sees in the dark are coyotes and criminals.
Night-time is the time of opportunity for criminals; one neighbour saw three people with backpacks on bicycles checking car doors one night at midnight. These people aren’t out for exercise; they’re out to cause harm.
And we need to stand up to it. We need to take our communities back from the drug dealers, the thieves, the troublemakers. This is our city, it’s the city of our children, our parents and our friends; it shouldn’t be a playground for criminals.
Obviously, we can’t act as vigilantes and patrol our blocks with bear spray and baseball bats, which is never an option even given the nonsense we have to deal with in Lethbridge. We can, however, protect ourselves in other ways. Communicating with, and watching out for, neighbours is key. Taking photos of licence plates and suspicious vehicles, and reporting them to SCAN or the police are other ways.
SCAN – Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods – is an initiative of the Alberta Sheriffs that according to the alberta.ca website “helps keep communities safe by dealing with problem properties that are being used for specific illegal activity” including. gang-related crime, child exploitation. drug activity and prostitution – both of which we suspect are happening at one residence near an elementary school.
Right across from this particular school, a sign recently briefly appeared in a window which looked like it was advertising an escort service.
Seriously, an escort service right across from an elementary school!
When residents make reports to SCAN, it can launch investigations into those residents’ concerns.
We’ve written various stories here in The Herald about homes being shuttered due to the efforts of SCAN and the LPS, working in conjunction to make neighbourhoods safe.
All it takes to make a report is to fill out a form at the alberta.ca website or call this toll-free number, 1-888-960-7226.
As one officer I talked to last weekend told me, residents should also call LPS if they see a suspicious vehicle or activity, no matter the time of day.
Another way to at least deter the criminally inclined is to install motion detector lights. Security cameras to monitor property can be purchases inexpensively and hooked up to WiFi. I have one and check it regularly via an app on my phone at any time of day no matter where I am.
I also bought several solar-powered motion detectors because I’m fed up with the nonsense we have to deal with. If everyone started taking these actions, and made the drug dealers and crooks know we are watching, then maybe they might be deterred. If we call the police and SCAN about vehicles, people and property that raise our suspicions, we might see a downturn in crime.
But for that to happen, we as law-abiding citizens of this city need to unite and stand up for each other and with each other.
We need to take our city back!

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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Dale Leier

Thank you for your excellent points and suggestions. Just a couple thoughts if I may add:

  1. Crime is a multi-headed monster that gets it’s energy from multiple sources.
  2. While the sources of crime may be related, they frequently require different approaches depending on the nature of the offense.
  3. The actual level of Police funding is not so concerning as is how the funding is used.

At the end of the day, you can throw unlimited amounts of money at crime but it is really the effectiveness that matters. Police have laws to enforce, but if the prosecutors can be bothered to do their job, and the judges don’t share the public’s desire for stiffer sentences, does it really even matter how much money is spent?
What we are seeing in Lethbridge is social decay and the road back is a long and expensive process. It may be that measures taken in other places such as gated communities and private security solutions will emerge here as well.



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