The small rural community of McLeese Lake is banding together to tackle crime.
During a presentation to Williams Lake city council Tuesday, Oct. 6, Dan Harrison and Ian Hicks said they have 96 members in a community watch Facebook group that are communicating regularly and effectively with each other.
Back in August, some community members rallied outside the Williams Lake courthouse when a property crime offender from their community was being sentenced.
When they learned the offender received a light sentence and they were disappointed, they returned home, and Harrison suggested they form a community watch group.
On Sept. 29, there was a break and enter on Robertson Road where three suspects went to the residence in the early morning hours of an older woman who was at home alone, with one of the suspects entering the home.
Harrison said it scared the woman.
“It also exposed a giant vulnerability in our community,” he told council. “Not only do we have a prolific offender, now we have a large-scale incident that just took place and that has really shaken a lot of people.”
Hicks said the positive thing, however, has been how effectively everyone is communicating with each other.
He shared an example where during a collision in McLeese Lake, he received a message on the community watch page alerting that a vehicle RCMP were looking for in regards to a missing girl and another prolific offender was seen leaving a house and heading south on the highway.
Hicks said he went up to an officer at the accident scene and told him that a vehicle police were looking for was stuck in the lineup of vehicles.
“That’s what comes out of this getting together as a community,” Hicks told council. “This is neat; this is good. What’s comes out of a negative situation with this prolific offender getting charged and us making a stand and saying we are tired of this repeating and repeating is Dan suggesting we make a community watch.”
They have applied for a special events grant to purchase some surveillance equipment, he added.
Mayor Walt Cobb told Harrison and Hicks the City appreciates the work they’ve done, a sentiment echoed by Coun. Scott Nelson, who applauded the community for taking a strong position and working together.
“We are all in this together, and we appreciate the work that you’ve done to help raise the profile,” Nelson said. “Hopefully the courts and the judges continue to see that the communities are starting to take greater action to ensure their safety is always the top priority.”
Coun. Marnie Brenner said it is remarkable how the community of McLeese Lake has pulled together.
She told Harrison and Hicks McLeese Lake has set an example for other groups and communities that it is about positive peer pressure and not about vigilantism.
“I just hope that we can continue to do good and keep the peace,” Harrison replied. “That’s ultimately what we want — we just want to enjoy where we live, like you all do.”
Harrison also thanked Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Jeff Pelley for his support.