Communication, awareness key issues to keeping neighbourhoods safe, police say

‘You can’t turn a blind eye and say you are not going to get involved'

Published on March 25, 2014

TRURO – Crime, slum landlords and drugs were hot topics at a community policing meeting in Truro this week.

Truro Police Service’s Chief Dave MacNeil was pleased with the crowd of about 70 people who participated in the open session, discussing concerns related to policing and safety in Truro.

While numerous people referred to the east end of town as more troublesome, MacNeil stated that’s not the case.

“The east end is no worse than others,” MacNeil said.

East end residents voiced their concerns about drugs, weapons and delerict properties in that area and they “fear it will get worse … no matter how many nice homes go up,” added Laurie Street resident Michael Pryor, referring to the new affordable housing apartments being erected on Alice Street.

Others said people are scared to get involved by reporting crime for fear of retaliation.

“You can’t turn a blind eye and say you are not going to get involved if you really want (to make a) difference,” said MacNeil. “We have to be good neighbours and have the strength inside to say, ‘this is not right’ and take action.”

David Watters, of Lyman Street, said vandalism is a major problem.

“We get a lot of vandalism. There are tracks in the snow where you see” where someone has approached the house, Watters said. “It’s very unsettling.”

Watters asked if police consider installing video cameras in neighbourhoods to catch criminals.

“There are a few in the downtown … we have a vehicle with a camera to view areas from time to time,” said MacNeil.

Drug use in Truro was another concern voiced by many at the meeting. MacNeil said the “drug of choice is prescriptions. They are everywhere … an issue right across the country. They are cheap and readily available.”

MacNeil added needles have been found in high school bathrooms and are used by “a gamut of people … straight A students” too.

Ultimately, said MacNeil, the way to make a difference is to be aware of what’s happening in the community and to report crimes or concerns.

“We rely heavily on the public,” he said.

Residents offered positive feedback from the meeting. Watters told the Truro Daily News he believes the gathering “may encourage people to call the cops more often. Every time we’ve called them, we’ve had good results.”

David Boehm said during the meeting that there’s “a vast improvement in the past 17 years” in Truro. “Most of the year, it’s relatively quiet” with some exception in the summer.

“The police do a great job,” he added.

As for what’s next, said MacNeil, people were encouraged to take sign up sheets on how to keep in touch with community safety initiatives, consider implementing Neighbourhood Watch programs, and letting police know when issues arise.

“If we can do things differently, we want to know,” said MacNeil.

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