Williams Lake Mayor Grateful for Anti-Crime Dollars
Williams Lake, B.C. – “I couldn’t be happier.”
The words of Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb in reaction to the provincial government’s announcement this week that it would spend $2.8 million over two years to crack down on crime in his city through a new regional community safety model.
The model includes four key actions:
- Establishing an RCMP Special Project Team to focus on specific crimes and prolific offenders that have the greatest impact on crime rates and public concern in the area. The team will include two dedicated officers focused on First Nations relationship building.
- Deploying a regional co-ordinator based in Williams Lake to work with the RCMP Special Project Team, anti-gang units and others to improve communications and co-ordination between policing, provincial and community partners.
- Developing a prevention and outreach program that will target at-risk youth or gang involved youth (aged 11-17) who need several, often overlapping services.
- Creating a Tsilhqot’in community safety manager position to address First Nations public safety concerns.
“This has been a process that we started about two years ago, and I have to thank the minister and the premier and our MLA,” he says. “I think it’s a great opportunity and what I really like about it is it’s not just looking at the issue of today, it’s putting plans in place so that we can look to the future and make sure that some of our vulnerable youth are not ending up in a gang situation.”
Cobb adds the plan follows through on something people in the community have talked “for years” on what was needed to help curb crime in Williams Lake.
“We had to get to the root of the problem and I think this will help us get to the root of the problem.”
The strategy is the result of discussions involving the Province, the City of Williams Lake, the RCMP, First Nations leaders and the local steering committee. It also complements work in progress through the Cariboo-Chilcotin Integrated Safety Initiative established last June.
The issue of crime reached a fever pitch in the community in February, 2016, when a teenager was robbed at gunpoint at the local skate park (see previous story here).
Cobb says the crime rate seems to have leveled off since then though.
“The police have done an excellent job. We had an incident earlier this year where there was an arson fire but other than that it’s gone down,” he says.
“We’re not at the top anymore (crime severity index). We’re down to seventh and we’re hoping with this new announcement that will bring us down to the bottom of that list.”