Just because you see teens out late at night ...
Approaching 30 is an interesting time in one's life. In my case, I'm staring down a decade in the newsroom, I'm married and we own our home ('own' about as much as anyone does these days).
I'm almost entirely domesticated. I bake muffins on a weekly basis - need I say more?
But I'm not so far removed from my teen years that I've forgotten how life feels as a teen and the stigma that teenagers have to deal with.
I've been following a bit of discussion on Riverview Neighbourhood Watch's Facebook page. It appears there have been incidents of vandalism and thefts in west Riverview, which understandably has residents upset. As a Riverview resident myself, I don't like to hear of these types of crimes - or any for that matter - taking place in my town.
The neighbourhood watch folks are quite diligent in keeping residents up to date on happenings major and minor in town so everyone can keep their eyes and ears open to protect themselves, their property and their neighbours' properties. All good in my eyes.
Recently, the group posted that large groups of teenagers were reported in the Waterfall/Canusa area of town and some properties were vandalized and lawn ornaments and bicycles were stolen. The neighbourhood watch group asked that residents inform Codiac RCMP when they see suspicious activity so that it might increase frequency of police patrol. Works for me.
However, the next day, the group posted, '6 teen girls hanging out Canusa and Glenforest 12:30 last night, RCMP were called, 3 cars were sent immediately.' I'm not sure what those teens were up to, and they certainly could have been involved in things they shouldn't have been. But the post doesn't make that clear. If it was indeed six teens just 'hanging out,' I don't believe that is cause for concern unless there is reason to believe they are the same teens causing the other disturbances.
Which leads me to my point … If you see teenagers walking your streets at night, I don't think it's fair to assume they are up to some kind of mischief. Keep an eye out, sure. If something seems off, by all means, report it. But you could say that for a group of people in any age bracket, not just kids even if they are typically more prone to rambunctious and sometimes questionable behaviour.
I recall many, many nights hanging out in Goldsboro Park in west Riverview as a teen. By and large, we were a decent bunch.
Probably a little noisier than we should have been from time to time - there was that night we failed miserably at building a human pyramid - but for the most part, we were sitting on the playground, chatting about nothing. We didn't vandalize any property and didn't steal a thing. We sat, we talked until early in the morning and we went home.
But I remember that feeling of seeing an adult walk by late at night, taking their dog out for a stroll. I could feel the stares and felt obligated to give a friendly wave and say, 'Hey there, how ya doin?' just to hopefully give them the impression that we were harmless. Whether it worked, I have no idea. Heck, it probably made things worse. I felt added pressure to give off a friendly vibe as I was the long-haired, leather jacket-wearing one in the bunch. So many times as a teen I felt the need to go out of my way to be extra friendly and to smile just a little more (while trying not to be creepy) to let people know I wasn't a criminal or some sort of hooligan, I was just 10 or 20 years out of fashion.
Recently, some teenagers took to the Riverview Neighbourhood Watch Facebook page to complain about the work of the watch group. The teens did themselves and all area teens a disservice by mouthing off to representatives of the group.
Ultimately, I think collaboration and a little respect between all parties is the only way to really solve these issues. The teens responsible for the crimes need to be held accountable by their parents, by the community and possibly by the RCMP, but the community also needs to give the teens a chance to make good and to show they can be willing partners in a safe town.
I bet most of the people involved in these activities know right from wrong. But it's easy to be led astray as a teenager trying to sort out the world, and we need to keep that in mind. I'm not providing an excuse for anyone's actions, and I'm also not suggesting that Riverview Neighbourhood Watch is out to paint all teens in a bad light.
I'm simply asking for a little caution and suggesting that the community not jump to conclusions any time they see a few kids roaming around at night.
City Views appears daily, written by various members of our staff. Eric Lewis is a reporter with the Times & Transcript. His column appears every Wednesday.
No need to panic over crime, police say
Despite increase in crime rate and severity, Codiac RCMP says it's not time for the public to panic
BY COLE HOBSON
TIMES & TRANSCRIPT STAFF
A spokesman for Codiac RCMP says a recent report that shows the crime rate and crime severity increased in Moncton in 2012 is 'disappointing' but it shouldn't be a huge cause for public concern.
'There are many factors that could have influenced numbers, and the numbers for one year do not constitute a trend and people should not panic,' said Const. Damien Thériault. 'We are doing a great job here in Moncton, co-operating with the population and various groups, and we will continue working very hard to reduce crime in our beautiful city.' Statistics Canada last week released its Crime Severity Index, and nationally it showed that the country's police services are once again reporting fewer crimes, a trend that has seen the national crime rate hit its lowest level since 1972.
But the situation in Moncton was different, as the 2012 crime rate increased from 8,337 total police reported crimes in 2011 to 9,865 in 2012. That 2012 number translated to a rate of 7,039 per 100,000 citizens, a 17 per cent increase from 2011 and significantly higher than the Canadian average of 5,588. There has been no significant trend in Moncton in recent years. Between 2008 and 2009 the crime numbers remained relatively steady; then there was a small decrease between 2009 and 2010 and a small increase from 2010 to 2011 before this year's larger increase for 2012.
'Of course, any increase that is noted is disappointing,' Thériault said, noting they will 'continue to use the strategies that we have been using in the past that are evidence-based and intelligence-led to continue our crime-reduction strategies.' Among those strategies are concentrating on 'prolific offenders,' who are the small percentage of the population responsible for a large number of crimes.
'Of course, we'll still be working with the community on this, with groups such as Riverview Neighbourhood Watch as well as the public at large from whom we require information to be able to do our jobs,' Thériault said. 'We also ask the public to be proactive in helping us try to prevent crimes of opportunity, such as thefts from vehicles, which unfortunately is too common in our area. The simple act of locking your doors and taking away the items from your vehicle can help reduce crimes. We certainly would request that everyone plays their part in this case.' The study also detailed the Crime Severity Index (CSI) for each province, territory and major census metropolitan area in Canada. It is a comparative measure that weighs each crime in order to determine the seriousness of the acts being committed. In Moncton the CSI increased from 68.8 in 2011 to 79.3 in 2012, an increase of 15 per cent when adjusted for population size.
The silver lining, however, was that the majority of the increase came from non-violent crimes, as that index increased by 20 per cent, while violent offences increased by only two per cent.
A StatsCan spokeswoman noted that the optics of Moncton's reported crime increase may look bad, but there are some positives, such as the fact that some serious crimes saw decreases in 2012.
'There's a bit of a good-news story hidden in the numbers,' said Mary Allen, a senior analyst with StatsCan, noting common assaults decreased from 1,046 incidents in 2011 to 1,011 in 2011, while sexual assaults dropped from 204 incidents in 2011 to 196 in 2012.
'It's predominantly non-violent crime. On the other hand, if you are the one whose house is being broken into or whose iPhone is being stolen, it makes a difference for you. So they are relatively less serious crimes that are driving the increase, but it's still crime,' she said.
'But it also depends on if you want to compare Moncton with other cities in the Maritimes. It also depends on the seriousness of the crimes. So on average, Moncton does have what we call a higher crime severity than Saint John or Halifax, but the violent crimes if compared to Halifax are relatively less serious. It's mostly because Moncton had no murder or attempted murder and Halifax did. Those kinds of really serious crimes aren't happening.' Allen said the Moncton statistics would primarily consist of Codiac RCMP's jurisdiction, but it also includes Moncton's census metropolitan area, which would also take into account other neighbouring jurisdictions and police forces like Caledonia RCMP.
She said people in Moncton shouldn't be alarmed by the report because 'when you have relatively small cities, you can get lots of ups and downs, depending on what happens in an individual year.' She reiterated that most of the increases have come from nonviolent offences such as theft under $5,000, which went up from 2,217 incidents in 2011 to 2,777 incidents in 2012, and mischief, which went up from 1,358 to 1,596 incidents in that same time frame.
Disturbing the peace also saw a big jump, up 53 per cent based on the adjusted population rate, with 843 actual incidents in 2012. Fraud (excluding identity fraud) also went up significantly, rising from 200 incidents in 2011 to 288 in 2012, an increase of 44 per cent when adjusted for 100,000 population.
'The Moncton crime severity increased 15 per cent, but the crime rate went up 17 per cent, so if you look at those two numbers side-byside, they can tell you the actual numbers went up. Severity didn't go up quite as much. It means the average in the increase is not quite as severe,' Allen said. 'That's mostly because the increase in the crime rate was being driven by offences like disturbing the peace and theft under $5,000, which are less severe ones.' Allen also suggested that numbers can often spike in certain years due to police forces cracking down on specific crimes. As an example in Moncton, Allen said there was an over 50 per cent increase in prostitution-related Criminal Code crimes in 2012 in Moncton - with 57 offences in 2012, up from 37 in 2011 - which could be attributed to more police resources going towards cracking down on that.
Thériault couldn't confir m yesterday if that was the case in Moncton with the up-tick on certain crimes, but he did say they have increased their efforts on trying to combat 'prolific offenders' who repeatedly commit crime.
'Going back to that period, we had several cases of pin pad frauds, which generated quite a bit of work for us. But we were successful in bringing those individuals to court, so there could be many factors that influence numbers,' he said. 'The important thing is will continue to work with the population to reduce those numbers.' Sgt. Noël Cyr is the provincial police co-ordinator for Crime Stoppers New Brunswick, and he said he was taken aback with the StatsCan data, considering what they've seen in terms of reported crime activity in their organization.
'When I look at it, it's surprising me that (crime) is on the way up, but across the country is on the way down. For my experience in Crime Stoppers, the number of calls per year that we're receiving from the public has been constant,' he said. 'People are still reporting calls through New Brunswick Crime Stoppers at the same rate.' Cyr said it would be people reporting crime or providing tips calling them, not victims, so he can't say directly how their steady rate of calls correlates to the overall crime numbers, but their numbers have remained relatively static over the last four or five years.
As an example, Cyr said in 2011 they received 6,323 calls, while in 2012 they received 6,345. Thus far in 2013, they have received roughly 2,600 calls.
In 2008, Moncton's total number of reported crimes were 7,918, which is 18 per cent lower than they are today, when adjusted for rate per 100,000 of population.
Both the police-reported crime rate and the CSI fell in most provinces last year, although rates increased in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and the territories.
In this province, the increase of the CSI was 3.26 per cent, up to 68.41. New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island were also the only provinces that recorded higher police-reported crime rates in 2012 compared to the previous year.
In New Brunswick, the total number of reported crimes was 41,723 in 2012, which represented a rate of 5,519 per 100,000, a four per cent increase over 2011.
Cyr said he hopes groups like theirs can help get the word out and help New Brunswick return to lower crime rates.
'Every police agency would like to see the crime rate as low as possible, and we don't like to see unsolved crime. We like to be able to solve every case we get. It's sad when you see or you hear that the rates have been going up. I recall just two years ago New Brunswick was one of the safest provinces in Canada, and now when you read the news they are saying our crime rate has gone up compared to all the other provinces,' he said, noting increased crime can have an impact even deeper than simply the victims that are involved.
'We're all trying to make our communities safer, and one way of doing it is for everyone to participate in the crime fighting and crime prevention in our province. We all know that if crime goes up, it's usually not good for anyone. It's not good for the province. People will be afraid of moving here. It has a lot of negative impacts on our way of living, so we have to make sure the crime rate is at the lowest possible.'
RON WARD/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT
Riverview neighbourhood watch program launched
Program encourages neighbours to watch out for one another; group seeking more members
BY ERIC LEWIS
TIMES & TRANSCRIPT STAFF
Amanda Lynn Crandall wishes there had been some sort of a neighbourhood watch program several months ago when her family was a victim of harassment.
A group of teenagers insulted the Riverview woman in front of her children and threw apples and snowballs at her house and vehicle. They surrounded her and her husband at a local store, and their truck was broken into.
Finally, in April, the youths set fire to a cardboard box and tossed it on their front lawn. A video of the incident was shared with police, who were able to identify some of the people, who were later arrested and charged with mischief.
'We haven't had any issues since,' she said. 'It's been nice and peaceful.' Crandall mentioned a neighbourhood watch in media interviews after the incidents. Since then, Riverview councillors Cecile Cassista and Andrew LeBlanc have helped launch a proper Riverview Neighbourhood Watch program.
Crandall is one of the area captains on her street in west Riverview.
'We just want to promote a safe and crimefree community,' she said. 'So if there's anything that's suspicious, we just want the neighbours to report it and make sure your neighbours are aware of there is unusual activity going on in the neighbourhood. If there's something you see, talk to each other about it. Get to know each other. Nobody knows their neighbours anymore.' The group is seeking more members of the community to join.
Codiac Regional RCMP Supt. Marlene Snowman is on the committee, along with several Riverview councillors and residents.
LeBlanc stressed that the project is community driven, and it has the town's support.
'This is all about building positive relationships in the community,' he said.
He said it's meant to simply be a deterrent for crime.
'By signing up for neighbourhood watch, what you're really agreeing to do is just to keep your eyes open in your direct surroundings,' he said.
Members of the program are asked to keep their neighbours aware of any suspicious activity in their areas. If there are serious concerns, the RCMP should be informed.
Supt. Snowman will be providing the group with a list of things they consider as they move forward, Cassista said.
Residents of a handful of neighbourhoods have signed up as captains or co-captains to help monitor their neighbourhoods, and the town will put neighbourhood watch signs up in those areas in the future.
Cassista said they are seeking more people to sign up in other areas of town, and she's been impressed with the level of interest so far.
She said Riverview is a safe community with few incidents, but it's still important to keep an eye out.
'We do live in a safe community, but I think (a neighbourhood watch) is important for community engagement,' she said.
Riverview Neighbourhood Watch in the Media
Riverview NHW CBC Interview
Four women from a neighbourhood in West Riverview; Deputy Mayor Cecile Cassista, Amanda Crandall, Michelle Boland, and Terra Mouland met and discussed reintroducing a neighbourhood watch program back into Riverview to make the community a safer place to live. From their first meeting, it was agreed upon to move forward. An information session was organized and held at RMS in October 2012. A committee was formed and they developed a process to move forward, the logo was approved, and a date was set for the very first public meeting. The program has gained a lot of support from Riverview residents that a first annual meeting was held at the Town of Riverview in May 2013. The information session had more than 80 people in attendance. Including, Guest Speaker, Superintendent Marlene Snowman and Mayor Seamans brought greetings on behalf of the town. The success of Riverview Neighbourhood Watch is rapidly growing with many citizens getting involved.