Concerned Enderby citizens confront city council on crime

About 25 residents attended Monday’s meeting to discuss recent increases in crime rates.

After noticing an increase in crime within the city, a group of Enderby citizens decided to take their concerns to city council.

Discussions began on the community Facebook forum If It Happens In Enderby It Stays In Enderby and, noticing the frequency of posts surrounding the issue, the group’s moderator Lori Heins decided to take action. Joined by about 25 other concerned citizens, she was tasked with the role of spokesperson and voiced the public’s concerns during Monday’s meeting.

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“The emotion that was on Facebook was really quiet during the meeting, which was great because you can’t get anywhere with that much emotion,” she said. “People just wanted their voice heard, to have their questions asked and get some clarity and that was what happened.”

Mayor Greg McCune acknowledged people’s concerns but also invited RCMP to the table to explain their role.

“It was an excellent meeting and it’s unfortunate that they had to get a group together to come in but they brought forward some things that they felt were important and that’s the great thing,” said McCune. “The RCMP did a good job of relaying what they do and, in my opinion, they do it really well.”

There are an estimated 33 RCMP officers who work throughout the North Okanagan — outside of Vernon north to the Shuswap — but McCune said that it is a complex system and location of officers throughout the area depends on need. That, he said, is where reporting comes into play.

“The RCMP does need the community’s help,” he said. “I think it’s the feedback from the community that can help keep our community safer and help stop some of these crimes.”

Post-meeting, Heins agreed. From locking up their property to watching out for their neighbours by reporting suspicious activity and avoiding taking matters into their own hands, the discussion also allowed people to learn about what they can do to help keep the city safe.

“I think a lot of people went into the meeting with a sort of ‘us against them’ attitude with the city council and the RCMP but I think the discussion really gave people some clarity,” Heins said. “Lots of people wanted to know about the lack of police presence in Enderby so it was good for the RCMP to be there and tell us what their procedures are and what they need from us as a community.”

The RCMP officer who attended the meeting said statistics show there are only nine more theft from auto files this year compared to the same period last year and suggested that, though there is a small increase, there may also be an increased perception of crime due to online discussions via forums like Facebook.

After council met Monday, McCune and Heins both said they considered the conversation productive.

“This is just the beginning of it because the issue can’t really be solved just like that but now we all have clarity around it and what everyone’s role is: what’s the responsibility of the city, the RCMP and the citizens within the community,” said Heins. “It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight but if everyone is doing their due diligence then there’s going to be progress.”

Related: Enderby wants RCMP enforcement

Related: Neighbours angry at slow RCMP response to violent Vernon party

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