Brampton City Council on July 10th voted unanimously to support to the Neighbourhood Watch Brampton program for a 6-month city-wide expansion. Neighbourhood Watch Brampton has worked in co-operation with Peel Regional Police since January 2017 to help residents organize and address property crime and community safety issues in their neighbourhoods.
Neighbourhood Watch Brampton is the only volunteer run organization in Canada that is proactively engaging and educating residents on important crime prevention and public safety issues with media and video resources. Incidents of violent crimes involving guns and knives, gangs, drugs, human sex trafficking, intimate partner violence, cyber crimes, and auto thefts are on the rise in the GTA leaving residents feeling powerless. Resident’s insecurities are further compounded by privacy breaches by major organizations, identify theft, telephone scams, crimes against seniors and hate crimes.
Neighbourhood Watch was previously operated by Brampton Safe City until the organization closed in June 2015. The program was resurrected by Brampton Focus Community Media and relaunched in January 2017 as a volunteer run program. It grew rapidly and within the first few months had exceeded 1,000 households. The organizing team tried unsuccessfully for over a year to convince the previous council to approve street signs for active neighbourhoods.
Don McLeod, the founder and chair of Brampton Focus Community Media says that “we started Neighbourhood Watch Brampton after no other community group stepped up to fill the void left by Brampton Safe city. We spent six months researching programs around the world, consulted with Peel Police and Safe City Mississauga, and then designed a world-class solution that our non-profit media group funded for two years. “
The program has relied extensively on the in-kind contribution of community media capabilities of Brampton Focus to engage with residents in their neighbourhoods. Previously, residents were required to canvass their streets, fill in a paper based form and attend a lengthy presentation. Fazal Khan, a co-founder of Brampton Focus and ex-Microsoft engineer, set out to make the program more efficient and less work for residents, especially for volunteers who opt to become a Neighbourhood Captain. He says that “without volunteer captains, we wouldn’t have a program and so we do everything in our control to streamline the process, provide online video and resources, and respond to their needs”.
Earlier this Spring, Mayor Patrick Brown raised a motion to ask city staff to consult with Brampton Focus and report back on an expansion of the Neighbourhood Watch program. At the July 10 Council meeting, city staff recommended a 6 month expansion option and city council authorized up to $150,000 to be managed by Brampton Focus to expand the Neighbourhood Watch Brampton program.
Nicole Cedrone, another Brampton Focus board member who oversees Neighbourhood Watch Brampton couldn’t be happier. She started out as a Neighbourhood Captain in the Snelgrove area and quickly became the group’s most vocal spokesperson. She says that “everyone on our board understands the opportunity and responsibility that the city’s investment provides”. Cedrone earlier this year led an effort with Neighbourhood Watch Brampton that raised $40,600 for the mom of a young murder victim.
Cedrone also represents Neighbourhood Watch Brampton on the city’s Community Safety & Advisory Committee. The committee was formed after Neighbourhood Watch Brampton started. It is filled with volunteer residents who all want to see Brampton live up to its full potential. She notes that “Safe City Mississauga has invested $2M over four years in their safety and crime prevention initiatives while our city couldn’t make a decision about helping with Watch Signs on city streets. In that time I’ve met dozens of violent crime victims and their families who want action. We finally appear to have a city council who understands that”.
NWB Facebook: fb.com/NeighbourhoodWatchBrampton
NWB Instagram: @nwbram
NWB Twitter: @NWBrampton