by Stephen Dafoe
Sitting on a folding chair behind the Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch Association (SRCWA) booth at the recent trade show, the watchdog organization’s new president Bonny Swart-Attwood is an approachable and witty head to the organization dedicated to being extra eyes and ears for the Morinville RCMP Detachment.
Quick with a smile, a laugh, and a good amount of knowledge in community policing, Swart-Attwood officially took over her duties Mar. 14. She has been busy spreading the word and the mission of SRCWA since.
“It’s good. It’s exciting. I’m a visual type of person, and I like to introduce myself old school the way we were brought up. You introduce yourself, so they [people] have a face to a name,” Swart-Attwood said. “At first it [the presidency] was overwhelming because I felt like I was just getting off the red carpet and everybody swarmed me with ‘this is what we’ve got to do.'”
And what Swart-Attwood has been doing is getting out there and promoting Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch Association, using some of the knowledge she acquired working for the Ontario Provincial Police in Belleville, Ontario.
Swart-Attwood sees a lot of potential for SRCWA, which now sits with more than 800 members.
“I want more because of the crime and the way it is out there now,” she explained. “You’ve got cyber crime. You’ve got your scams, and your door-to-door and so on. [We want] to educate a lot of people that don’t understand computer systems or don’t understand the scams. I’ve been scammed, too, but if you see the signs and can watch for it before it happens. Always ask for credentials if they are at your door.”
Swart-Attwood realizes people work hard for what they have and that it is heartbreaking when criminals take that away.
She is hoping SRCWA can get involved with fellow watchdog organization Citizens on Patrol [COP], potentially working with them.
“Some of the rural areas that have it [COP] are dormant,” Swart-Attwood said. “If we can get them up and say, ‘Hey! We can be the extra eyes for the RCMP and the Peace Officers out there, we think it would be greatly appreciated.'”
In addition to looking at groups locally and across the country for ideas to improve the work SRCWA does, the organization is hoping to increase the membership well beyond the current 800-plus.
Although SRCWA meets monthly at the Provincial Building, attendance at meetings is not mandatory for general members. Lifetime memberships are $25, which gets the member access to the organization’s fanout notices, chronicling recent crimes in the area, including break and enters, vehicle thefts, and other suspicious activity.
For more information on Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch Association, visit http://www.sturgeonruralcrimewatch.org.