Erin residents are understandably upset over a recent rash of vandalism in their community.
It’s reached the point Mayor Allan Alls has disseminated an open letter to the community on the topic and citizens have formed an online community watch program.
While such groups can be helpful, providing “eyes and ears” for local police, observation and reporting is where they would be wise to draw the line.
Though the concept of citizen power of arrest and community patrols have been discussed online, those involved would be well advised to heed the advice of local OPP Inspector Scott Lawson and “not take this on themselves.”
While initiated with the best of intentions, such patrols have been known to descend into vigilantism, sometimes with tragic consequences.
Likewise the idea of private security, which was briefly considered by town council should also be left in the dustbin. It’s been many years, but the Town of Minto once tried combatting vandalism with a contracted rent-a-cop brigade. The experiment was soon abandoned when the security force members got overzealous with parking enforcement, questioning of local youth so bold as to traverse the streets and, in one case, allegedly aided in break-ins.
Local police and Crimestoppers are always pleased to receive tips on vandalism and other street crimes. Help with enforcement? Not so much.
Ignite the community
A citizen from Erin has initiated an online community watch in response to increased incidents of vandalism in the village.
While law enforcement does rest firmly on the shoulders of the local OPP it’s also a good idea for community residents to stay vigilant and on top of the village’s happenings.
Maybe almost more important is a consistent general human presence.
When growing up I quite frequently spent my nights until dusk or beyond outside playing with my neighbourhood friends.
But I always knew my parents, in fact all the adults on the street, were watching out for me.
Doesn’t it make sense that any troublemakers out there would also know that the adults in my community were present and aware? You’d best be sure they’d know and report any shenanigans that went down.
In today’s digital world it’s a little sad that it takes an online Facebook post to rally the neighbourhood but such is life.
This may be a turning point for the village.
Maybe the community will connect in a human way in addition to a digital way and ignite an even fuller sense of community.
The type of community where all citizens look out for one another, not taking the law into their own hands, but not being afraid to make it known that they’re watching out for their own and vandalism will not be tolerated.