What do you do when someone talks to you about what happened to them? Every now and then people phone us to talk about things happening in the communities. They tend to ask us to do something. It’s a little hard to come up with concrete solutions or simply just tell the story. The story does go out most of the time and we hope that it helps with the problem. But these things are usually after the fact and that doesn’t help with what happened. I remember in the past when there was much more respect for the belongings of other Crees. To be fair it just isn’t Cree vandalizing Crees. We hear tales of bush camps robbed or trashed by non-Crees. Instead of just writing a news story I would like to bring up something else this editorial.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” means that it is better to do something early so that something bad does not happen, rather than try to make it better after it has happened. That’s what I feel we should be working on. Hopefully the justice workshop will be coming up with solutions and prevention techniques based on traditional Cree knowledge and practices but in the meantime here are a few thoughts the police have on the idea.

Looking at internal theft and fraud. It seems that police stats say that one out of three employees steal from their employers. At risk are companies with a high cash flow or merchants who have resalable merchandise. In some cases goods are borrowed and never returned. One of the suggestions is to allow employee anonymity when giving information to stop these practices. Another is periodic inventory auditing. Never give one employee both purchasing and receiving functions, record all transactions in a ledger and check for billing errors. Police say to leave cash drawers and safes open when they have been emptied, remove valuable merchandise from display cases at closing time, and check all doors and windows to make sure they are locked at closing time. All these things give less reason for someone to break in or vandalize your place of business.

One of the most effective tools though is the Neighborhood Watch program. These help in many ways and are basically a form of cooperation between the police and local residents. Usually a committee is made up of people within a specific neighborhood rather than the whole community. Then the residents can concentrate on just their section. They can keep an eye on each other’s house when they are out of town for a while or a nearby business after closing hours. They can inform the police of any suspicious people or activities. They can provide a safe place for kids to run to if there’s trouble. This doesn’t mean that all incidents will suddenly stop but it helps to cut down on the number of them. Police officers are usually willing to act as resource persons for these Neighborhood Watch committees.

Setting them up is as easy as talking to neighbors, a door-to-door visit. Usually about six people are a good number to coordinate all activities like getting out information, delegating responsibility, etc. No matter what you do let the police know about your project, get the support of the band council (you might get their help too) and promote it (let people know what you are doing).

In any case I guess what I’m saying is that people in the community is what is needed to make the community a better place to live. It requires you to give a little of your time to make the world a better place for all, so visit the police today and get some information on how to do things. They have all the information or can get it for you.