Block Watch gains ground in Port Moody after shootings

Port Moody Police are seeing a resurgence in interest in the Block Watch program in the wake of three gangland shootings in the city. - FILE GRAPHIC/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Port Moody Police are seeing a resurgence in interest in the Block Watch program in the wake of three gangland shootings in the city.

Port Moody Police are looking for a few good neighbours to take on the Block Watch captain mantle.

Since a rash of three suspected gangland shootings in the city, the PMPD has been getting a number of calls from residents wanting to start a Block Watch program in their neighbourhood, said Const. Luke van Winkel.

"Community involvement and interaction, whether it's in a highrise tower or a cul-de-sac... needs to be the way we solve crime," he said.

The program had been fairly dormant, van Winkel said, until the sudden spike in homicides (before the shootings, Port Moody hadn't logged a murder since 2002).

On Saturday morning, a 32-year-old Glenayre resident, Joseph Markel, was gunned down at his home. In June Randy Naicker, 34, was shot in broad daylight in the Queens Street plaza parking lot; just a week earlier 35-year-old Bin Toor was shot in the recreation centre parking lot. All three are believed to be targeted gang shootings.

Block Watch captains are responsible for connecting with neighbours in a certain area (the size depends on the neighbourhood) and communicating information and updates from police, mainly through an email distribution list but also by phone for seniors or those without internet access. Captains must also go through a criminal record check to ensure neighbours feel safe sharing information and interacting with them.

Van Winkel said captains are expected to be vigilant in looking out for their neighbours and to know what's going on in their area.

Neighbourhoods who join Block Watch receive information on crime trends happening in their area and throughout the city. Homeowners in a Block Watch area may also qualify for discounts on their home insurance.

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