Moncton residents in old west end held public meeting to address increase in crime
More than 125 residents from Moncton gathered at a public meeting on Tuesday night to speak out about what they say is an increase in crime in their west end neighborhood. Some say they do not feel safe and are calling on RCMP, the city and the province for help.
“The park is no longer safe for our kids because we find needles and drug paraphernalia in the park,” said Peter Colwell who lives in the old west end near Jones Lake.
He said that he helped to organize the meeting because people in the neighbourhood are feeling uneasy about an increase in criminal activity in recent years.
“Thefts and break-ins vandalism. It’s both houses and cars,” said Colwell.
He said the community plans to start a neighbourhood watch program to help deter crime but said “we need more patrol, we need more officers.”
Bettina Moores, a resident, attended the meeting and said that an increase in crime isn’t the only issue of concern. She said that people are camping out in tents along the lake and community parks.
“We don’t feel as though we can just let our kids go play anymore,” said Moores.
Charles Leger is a city councilor for ward 2 and chair of the Codiac Regional Policing Authority. He said he attended the meeting and explained to residents that there is a shortage of RCMP officers in the city. He said that shifts are short staffed about 20 to 25% of the time.
He added that last year the city hired 4 more officers and more are on the way.
“This year there will be a request again for another additional 5 officers and that continues for the next few years to augment the number of officers required to provide police services in Moncton,” Leger said.
The additional officers won’t be hired until 2020 he said, but Leger added that RCMP will step up patrol in the west end in the meantime.
He is also asking residents to lock their doors and take steps to protect their properties. He added that an increase in crime is not unusual in a growing city like Moncton.
Leger said the city is also considering hiring community policing officers to patrol neighbourhoods and act as crime deterrents for a pilot project. He hopes it would come in place as early as the end of this year.
But Moores said the pilot project still doesn’t address the root of the problem.
“I feel as though we have a drug epidemic that we are not properly addressing.”
Cathy Rogers, MLA for Moncton South, agrees that more resources need to put put into affordable housing and addiction services in the city.
“We do need to put more as a province, more resources for treatment for mental health and treatment for addiction” said Rogers.