Crime Stoppers program expands to more locations in Nanaimo school district

A crime fighting program is making headway in several Nanaimo secondary schools.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman and police coordinator for the Crime Stoppers program, introduced the program to students at Dover Bay and Woodlands last school year and John Barsby this school year. Next on the list is Cedar and Wellington, followed by NDSS.

“It’s another avenue we use to increase communication with the kids,” he said.

O’Brien kicks off the program in each school with a 30-minute presentation delivered to each grade level, outlining the history of the program, how it works, statistics and stories about how anonymous tips have made a difference in the community.

“We leave them with the knowledge that they can do more,” he said. “Your community is not only where you live, but also your school.”

What students like about the program is that it can be done from the comfort of their iPhone or laptop – students prefer giving web tips to phone tips – and the fact that it is anonymous, said O’Brien.

“They don’t want to be seen as working with the administration and we get that,” he said. “They don’t have to talk to anybody.”

So far, police have received a number of tips about situations in schools that might not have been reported otherwise, including drug dealing, assaults, bullying, thefts and even upcoming events such as parties, which the tipster was worried could get out of control, said O’Brien.

While he can’t release any details to protect the anonymity of the program, some of the tips have proved helpful for school liaison officers, he added.

The Nanaimo and District Crime Stoppers program is a cooperative program involving the community, media and police and is run by a group of community volunteers.

It allows citizens to provide anonymous information without fear of reprisal, without having to go to court, and they do not have to give their name.

An attempt to get the anonymous tip program going in schools has long been a goal of the volunteer organization – several years ago, the group had a member talking with students at Nanaimo District Secondary School, but the initiative stalled.

Two years ago, Nanaimo school board asked district staff to help implement the program in all secondary schools on the recommendation of the anti-vandalism committee.

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