Crime prevention measures behind Railyard Mall easier said than done

By on December 21, 2017
Seniors have reported being harassed along a walkway between the Railyard Mall and the Nicola Valley Museum. (Michael Potestio/Herald).

Merritt police intend to discuss possible crime prevention measures along a walkway behind the Railyard Mall with members of city council, but implementation will be easier said than done.

RCMP Const. Tracy Dunsmore plans to assess the walkway for crime prevention measures through environmental design before attending the next police committee meeting scheduled for Jan. 23 where she will make a recommendation.

RCMP Const. Tracy Dunsmore.

This could involve the city placing cameras and light fixtures along that path.

“The problem with that specific area they’re talking about is that there’s three different agencies [located there],” Dunsmore told the Herald.

The museum, Railyard Mall and Coquihalla Gillis House all surround the path.

“If we suggest putting up surveillance cameras or lighting or getting rid of raised areas on the walkway where people like to sit then somebody has to put money out to do that,” said Dunsmore. “Who wants to pay for the video cameras — is it the Railyard Mall? Is it the city? Is it Interior Health [or] do they all chip in?”

Dunsmore also said these types of initiatives are most effective if installed before a building is constructed.

“Trying to make it retroactive is a little bit more difficult because you can’t really get rid of things, you have to work with what’s there and make the best of it,” said Dunsmore.

The issue of people loitering along the walkway was brought up at the last police committee meeting on Dec. 12.

At the meeting Coun. Diana Norgaard suggested the RCMP conduct safety and crime prevention assessments of public spaces, particularly the walkway behind Railyard Mall.

“I was just wondering if we could do that and what that would cost the city,” Norgaard asked RCMP Cpl. Derrick Francis.

The walkway has been the subject of a recent complaint from the museum, but has been a known problem area for the RCMP for years.

Crime prevention through environmental design is an approach to deter activity such as mischief, graffiti, vandalism and loitering, Cpl. Francis told the Herald.

Francis said when people are doing these types of things they prefer a secluded setting, and this approach is designed to take away that sense of seclusion.

“Constable Dunsmore is trained in looking at an area and deciding what you can do to improve things,” he said. “A lot of it is common sense.”

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