CHILLIWACK CUPE BC president Barry ONeill welcomed this Fraser Valley city as the latest member of the City Watch family at a city hall ceremony yesterday.
It is a simple but effective idea: Train municipal workers (CUPE members) to watch out for and report crimes they witness during the course of their jobs.
It makes such good sense for British Columbia communities, ONeill said. Our members are on the streets, in the alleys, in the parks and other public places during their daily work. They know their community perhaps better than most citizens. And they know when something suspicious is occurring.
ONeill stressed that it also makes good sense when employers and unions do something positive together. And he praised Chilliwack council for joining the program.
CUPE Local 458 (city workers) sees it as an excellent way to protect children, particularly in the parks. Also, municipal workers are often in places where few other people go for example, clearing storm drains. These are places where the police are hard-pressed to patrol regularly.
Has it been successful in our communities? Victoria has worked co-operatively with the Insurance Corp. of B.C.(ICBC) to provide daily hot sheets lists of stolen vehicles to go in city trucks, ONeill said. It has been a highly successful partnership, resulting in the recovery of dozens of stolen vehicles.
In Prince George, employees guided emergency vehicles up the mountain to a woman who had broken her leg. In Richmond, city workers saved a drowning woman.
Everyone benefits from City Watch and it costs the taxpayer next to nothing, he said.
Ron Verzuh, CUPE Communications
Barry ONeill, CUPE BC President