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In Our Communities
AN INTERACTIVE WORKSHOP AT THE LMLGA CONFERENCE
May 7, 8 2009 Harrison Hot Springs Resort
SUMMARY REPORT From William Roberts and Associates
Over ninety LMLGA delegates participated in this 80 minute session on Thursday May 8, 2009. After introductory remarks from Councilor Patricia Heintzman and a brief background Powerpoint presentation from William Roberts (Appendix I), the delegates worked in nine groups with table facilitators to prioritize their responses to this question:
It is 2012 and your community has been successful in reducing crime significantly from the intolerable levels of 2009. The collaboration among stakeholders and citizen groups was so successful that the majority of residents have told pollsters they are very satisfied with the process of engagement and they feel much safer in the community for themselves and their families. You were the elected councillor who helped lead this collaborative process. The Vancouver Sun is now writing an article on your community process and how it worked to reduce the crime rate so dramatically. A reporter has just called and wants to interview you about what you did. You prepare three speaking notes before the interview begins. What are they?
RESPONSES FROM INDIVIDUALS AND TABLES
Close to 200 responses from individuals were generated as they worked to think through this scenario. These responses were written out on cards that are kept on record. From the nine working tables with an average of eight delegates each, the top five or six most common themes and/or actions were presented back. They are:
More resources for enforcement – Crime Watch and policing Effective prevention strategies – increasing black and white policing and bike patrols Education in Schools at all levels Community Engagement – Town Hall meetings Blockwatch and Block Parties – neighbourhood strategies Youth Interventions – e.g. mentoring and adult role models
Community policing especially focusing on hot spots Increasing social services, reducing crime by reducing homelessness
For LGLMA Executive from William Roberts and Associates May 2009
Policies that address mental health/addictions as they influence crime rates Education in schools Working to recue graffiti
Increase Community policing and patrols Emphasis on Education of youth at early ages (before age 8) – with role models Literacy and recreational programs Focus on low hanging fruit – cannot solve problems overnight
Effective community engagement is key. Youth mentoring particularly for at-risk youth Restorative justice (Surrey task Force with RCMP) Community Partnerships – meeting with MPs and MLAs Crime preventions strategies with CEPTED principles
People power and grass roots support is key – not just throwing more money at problem Life skills training, mentorship, learning disabilities, self esteem etc Proceeds of crime to fund crime prevention Block watch programs – “neighbourhoods of strangers”
Better handle on crime statistics, analysis and data – knowing who did what to whom Youth engagement efforts with non partisan approach
Focus on welfare support and poverty reduction programs Neighbourhood Block Watch and communication Ongoing collaboration between stakeholders – integrated plans and services Enhanced police services and funding for prevention programs that work Community court systems
Focus on problem areas and policies that target hot spots Spikes in crime and hot spots need to be identified and addressed Dealing more effectively with public perception – fears often exaggerated Crime prevention through better environmental design and community planning
Community Task Force Model – bringing everyone to the table Plans based on mapping of hot spots and taking action Internal and external communications that loop back Lobby group to be more proactive that reactive
Youth diversion programs very effective
Community engagement and Neighborhood watch Crime Outreach Program with volunteers and mentoring (Crimestoppers) Incentive for purchase of home security systems Increase minimum wage – to address poverty Programs to make parents more accountable Review drug policies and prohibition
Additional responses from Friday morning Plenary
See work done previously by LMLGA and by FCM on National Crime Prevention Centre See work done by LMLGA (Mel in Langley) on Municipal Drug Strategy See Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows on Multi-stakeholder Task Group (Deb Walters) Need more accuracy of statistics and up-to-date data, not just press reports (Macleans) Regional policing and integrated policing is going on through Metro Vancouver Prevention really must be emphasized over fear mongering and headlines
Restorative Justice works and needs to be shared more effectively in the region.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND POSSIBLE NEXT STEPS
In reviewing both the 200 plus cards with individual responses, as well as the top themes and actions that surfaced from the table discussions, there are at least three broad recommendations that can be made and next steps for the LMLGA Executive to consider.
1.0 A Spectrum of Views – A Coordinated and Comprehensive Approach
From the responses offered and presented a range of important, legitimate actions could be taken. It appeared that delegates were comfortable with a variety of different approaches working together, and that a polarization of views was not evident. This is in contrast to other policy debates on crime, especially at the federal level that involves a lot of finger-pointing where some are seen as hard and others soft on crime, some actions seen to be too preventive and ineffective and others seen as too punitive and vengeful. Many of the tables reported out taking a range of actions that pointed toward a more comprehensive and coordinated approach
There was a good degree of emphasis placed on taking action in the schools and education system, particularly in the early years. And perhaps in general the delegates as local government officials emphasized more of the community, prevention, educational and other front-end approaches. The restorative justice programs, as in Surrey were given a strong voice. At the same time was also recognition of the need for greater enforcement and resources for on-the-streets community policing.
With further dialogue and deliberation within LGLMA it is important to test this observation that the solution lays in different approaches and initiatives being taken. Assuming this to be true however, it well positions the Executive to develop a coordinated, comprehensive framework for action that avoids the normal finger-pointing and polarization that occurs.
2.0 Options for Taking Action and Next Steps
From the responses that were more action-oriented there are at least four priority actions and next steps that the Executive should consider
2.1 Prepare and disseminate a compendium, a guide to best practices and effective tools and techniques that work.
This action can be done relatively easily with information of the current best practices available, but that seem not to be in one central place. A student researcher or consultant could pull together this information. The delegates had much of this knowledge themselves, and if we had time such a compendium could have been put together at the Conference.
Once prepared and disseminated however the challenge is how to effectively have local governments and officials use the “Comprehensive Compendium to Lowering Crime in Your Community” and not leave it on the shelf. This issue needs to be given more thought, as in the recommendations, but represents a solid action, even as a first step.
2.2 Highlighting Best Practices of Collaborative Actions That Work
A powerful message that emerged from the discussions was the need to work together horizontally with groups across the community and between communities, as well as vertically between different levels of government and agencies locally, regionally and nationally.
At the horizontal community level actions that involved local councils and school boards working together was often cited. Restorative Justice Programs that involve the police, faith communities and community groups is another example. Working with UBCM, FCM and other groups from the wider national even global community can be effective, although not often cited in the discussions. Nonetheless crime, like many other issues in today’s world cannot be solved by one agency or government working in silos of isolation. Taking the lead on how effective collaboration works, and for LGLMA to be the catalyst for this, is strongly recommended.
2.3 The Spikes and Spokes Approach
Also emerging form the deliberation of delegates was an approach of reducing crime by having collective action in the form of Quick Response Team. Such a team would identify where the hot spots are, when and why they arise, and then target the most appropriate resources to address them. There often are a “rash of break-ins” or a “crime spree” or as now a “spike in gang violence”. When these spikes take place government agencies together can mobilize resources along the spokes emanating out into the community to deal with them.
This approach needs to be made conspicuous and to work effectively with the media. It does not however address various prevention strategies, and could have the effect of lulling the general public and officials into a passive sense that someone else will deal with crime when it occurs.
2.4 Community Crime Task Force Model
As outlined and presented by Table 8, and already existing in Maple Ridge and other communities, this approach involves the intentional development of a Community Crime Task Force with all the various agencies and stakeholders at the table in a regular structured way to provide the coordinated and comprehensive strategies alluded to earlier.
It is recommended that upon further research and knowledge of how this Task Force works and the costs and benefits of it, that LGLMA be the vehicle through which this model is replicated in other communities across the Lower Mainland.
3.0 Priorities for Action by LMLGA Executive
From the four options for actions recommended above, the LGLMA needs to develop a process for prioritizing its next steps within existing resources and in light of competing priorities.
However there may be several advantages for taking on this issue in a high priority fashion given the public and current media perception that the Lower Mainland is itself a hot spot in Canada for crime. We could have posed the original question to the LMLGA and ask what by 2012 the goals and targets are for reducing crime rates in the region, and what was done regionally to meet those targets. To this end three strategies could be explored
3.1 Develop an LMLGA version of the National Centre on Crime Prevention
Given the work that has already been done at the national level and through FCM, LGLMA could work with them and with academics at the University of the Fraser valley and SFU to support a Metro Vancouver Centre on Crime Prevention. This Centre would be the place to go for up-to-date information, best practises and guidebooks, effective tools and approaches. It would also be the place from which advice and counsel would flow to specific communities on their particular issues, needs and gaps.
3.2 Replicating the Community Crime Task Force Model
An even more proactive strategy would be to ensure that collaborative community task force, as working well in some communities, are replicated and begin to work in all other lower mainland communities. As indicated crime is a multifaceted and growing social problem requiring solutions that are multipronged and collaborative. To embed this approach into the DNA of local governments and communities is a role the Executive could play with significant results both empirically and politically.
3.3 Taking Leadership on Crime as Top Priority
Adding up all of the above, it points in a direction of the LMLGA making crime prevention, reduction and politics its number one priority. No doubt there are many other pressing issues and competing challenges that are faced. And within this summary report there are several options and actions that could be taken on one by one. Much stands to be gained however if as a top priority, the LGLMA sets out clear goals and targets for 2012 and works collectively with a concerted, comprehensive and coordinated plan of action with all feasible collaborative resources and leadership available.
For LGLMA Executive from William Roberts and Associates May 2009