Crime Prevention Week focuses on safe communities
We all have a role in helping ensure our communities are safe and secure places to live, work and raise a family, and one of the best tools for reducing and preventing crime is actively looking out for our neighbours.
The goal of Crime Prevention Week, May 10-16, is to raise awareness about the ways Albertans can get involved in promoting and upholding community safety.
For Myrtle Wegner, a dedicated community volunteer and recipient of a 2014 Community Justice Award, presented by Justice and Solicitor General, the key to a safe community is hard work and helping others. Throughout her life, she has been involved in local crime prevention and community safety projects, creating awareness about issues affecting her community and encouraging others to do their part.
A former long-time resident of Barrhead, a community of roughly 4,400 people just north of Edmonton, Myrtle became a member of the Barrhead and District Rural Crime Watch Association in 1972, eventually serving as president for four years before stepping down in 2014, when she and her husband relocated an hour’s drive away to Sherwood Park.
Myrtle’s contributions as president included partnering with the local RCMP detachment and fire department on a crime prevention-themed barbeque that gives community members an opportunity to meet first responders and learn about the work they do. She also organized an annual poster-making contest for grade 1-9 students aimed at showing them how they can help be eyes and ears in their communities.
“The contest is meant to get the kids thinking about what crime is. I always tried to get the message across that there is no such thing as a little crime. A crime is a crime is crime. Period.”
In addition to her work with the association, she was a member of the Barrhead Cares Committee, which brought together community crime prevention stakeholders. She also hosted a fraud awareness workshop for local seniors.
Since moving, Myrtle has spent much of the past year getting settled in her new home and neighbourhood. However, she continues to find time to help out at the Strathcona Crime Watch Association, and sat on the steering committee for the 2015 Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association Symposium, which was held in February.
So, after a lifetime of community service, what advice does Myrtle have for those looking to help keep their neighbourhoods safe?
“There are all sorts of things people can do if they want to give back to their community. The key is knowing what is being offered, what is missing and what local resources are available. If you see there is a need, get out and talk to your neighbours and introduce yourself to stakeholders. Tell them ‘I think this is a good idea’ and get the conversation going. In my experience, there will always be someone who is excited to help.”
The 2015 Community Justice Awards recipients will be announced in early June. The annual awards celebrate the work of individuals and organizations across the province that lead local community safety and crime prevention initiatives, victims services, youth justice committees and restorative justice programs.
If individuals or organizations are interested in participating in Crime Prevention Week activities or would like information on how to organize events in their respective communities, email the Crime Prevention and Restorative Justice branch of Alberta Justice and Solicitor General at: firstname.lastname@example.org.