Communities rally together to address crime in their backyard
Feb 10, 2018

As an unusual spate of violence has spread out across Ottawa and reached into neighbourhoods that are usually quiet, residents took steps this week to strengthen their communities.

But they're also hoping to see more police in their neighbourhoods.

Residents in Bells Corners, Mechanicsville and Overbrook all talked about ways to make their communities safer.

Bells Corners

In Bells Corners Monday, dozens of residents packed into a local school to talk about safety and move toward starting a neighbourhood watch. The normally quiet area has recently seen shootings, a teen killed in a bizarre collision and vandalism at a local mosque.

Most people at the meeting signed up for the watch, which local Coun. Rick Chiarelli said is a good sign.

"With that kind of commitment that we saw here tonight, I think we're going to end up with [a watch program], and it's going to be a strong one," Chiarelli said.

Martin McColin, one of those to attend the meeting, said what he really wants is more officers. 

"What we really need on the streets is more policing and that's what we are probably not getting because we are dealing more with neighbourhood watch."

Mechanicsville

There were similar sentiments in Mechanicsville Thursday night, which also came about after a shooting in that community.

Lorrie Marlow, with the Mechanicsville Community Association, said she hoped the meeting they held with their local councillor and police would get residents to report even small concerns to police, so officers have more information.

"I am hoping they can encourage our residents to report, report, report everything that they see," she said.

Marlow said the community has had ups and downs over the years and right now she's encountering a lot of "sketchy" people on the street.

She said she would like to see police in the community more regularly.  

"We would like to have more police presence in the neighbourhood and we worry that we only seem to see them when something happens, we would like to see them before something happens."

Overbrook

In Overbrook last week, a running gun battle in the middle of the afternoon left bullet holes in car and the community shaken.

Rawlson King, president of the Overbrook Community Association, said they had been working on a strategy to engage youth well before the recent shooting.

He said they are focused on improving the community for youth.

"A lot of people will say more boots on the ground and more arrests, but the reality is that the kids are our potential," he told CBC earlier this week. "We know that if we can keep kids in school they most likely will not be involved in petty crime."

King said his community has come together because of previous challenges and their neighbourhood watch is among the most active in the city.

It's that kind of trust and community engagement that makes it easier for police to crack down on suspects involved in the drug trade and other criminal activity, King said.

"Police can come in, move efficiently and effectively, and actually start to address problems," he said. "It really does pay off."

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Communities rally together to address crime in their backyard