Pubdate: Thu, 18 Dec 2008
Source: Goldstream Gazette (Victoria, CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Black Press
Author: Edward Hill


If suspicious characters are lurking about your neighbourhood, Langford
wants to know about it.

The City is looking to launch a 1-800 "crime line" for suspected problems
that don't warrant an immediate police response, but are more serious than
bylaw infractions.

"We want to get the community involved to make the community safer," said
Mayor Stew Young. "We want more eyes and ears to deal with illegal
activity. The police can't be everywhere."

For instance, if neighbours think a nearby house is a hub of drug pedaling
or stolen property, they can call in their suspicions anonymously, Young
said. If an area feels unsafe to walk at night, the City wants to know
about it, he continued.

The phone line isn't meant to replace 911 or take the place of the West
Shore RCMP, Young said, but will help pinpoint problem houses and "hot
spots" for crime.

"It would complement what (Langford bylaw) is already doing," he said. "We
are trying to be proactive rather than reactive to crime. It lets people
know that they can't move to Langford and set up a drug house."

Young would like the "crime line" active within the next few months for a
year-long trial run. The proposal has yet to come before Langford's
protective services committee.

Langford bylaw enforcement, though, has given the project high priority
and is working out the logistics of such a service. It's not clear if the
line would be staffed, directed to voice-mail or a mix of both.

A key piece of the program is ensuring the confidentiality of callers and
the security of what is expected to be a growing database of information,
said Lorne Fletcher, Langford's senior bylaw officer.

Bylaw services is exploring having the "crime line" within the West Shore
RCMP detachment, as it has the physical security in place, Fletcher said.

They are also exploring piggybacking it on the Crime Stoppers system.
"It's still very early. We are trying to finalize where that phone would
ring," he said.

Other cities such as Surrey have lines for citizens to phone in suspected
marijuana grow-ops, although Young has envisioned a much broader program.

"This gives someone someplace to go if they aren't sure if their concerns
are valid, but they want someone to check into it," Fletcher said.
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