Spring is here and Westwood folk will spend more time outside. It’s a time to reconnect with friends and neighbours, but also a time to be watchful — area residents aren’t the only ones frequenting our streets.
Since the current school year began, there have been four attempted abductions within Westwood/Kirkfield — the most recent having occurred in February. Each time, a guy in a vehicle has offered a ride to a kid walking alone on his or her way to school. Thankfully, all the kids did the right thing and got away. Unfortunately, there were no witnesses.
The Westwood family of schools (Phoenix, Sansome and Ecole Robert Browning elementary schools, Lincoln middle school and Westwood Collegiate) hosted an information evening called Be in the Know at Sansome School in March.
Const. Lisa Allison of the Winnipeg Police community relations unit spoke candidly to parents and educators. Police believe several of the abduction attempts are linked but the files have been closed due to insufficient information. Unless more details come to light, these cases will go unsolved, and the individual(s) targeting local kids will remain at large.
Westwood schools are doing all they can to educate students and families about safe practises. Kids are told to walk in groups when going anywhere — to travel in a direct route from point A to point B using public routes, not shortcuts or trails with limited visibility; to walk in the middle of the sidewalk, outside of arm’s reach; and to always be aware of their surroundings. That goes for the rest of us, too.
Keeping our neighbourhood safe is a community effort. Const. Allison suggests we try to slow down and be alert — we tend to get caught up in our routines and are oblivious to things going on around us.
If you see a car or person that is suspicious, write down a license plate number or a physical description. It could turn out to be nothing but it could also be useful to an investigation. She also says that if you have a camera in, use it. If you see something that seems strange, take a picture.
If you haven’t already, get connected to Neighbourhood Watch, the Winnipeg Police Service’s email news or the e-watch for District 2 (www.winnipeg.ca/police, click the Crime Prevention tab) to keep up on reported activity in our area. Westwood is a great place to live — together, we can keep it that way.
Sharon Pfeifer is a community correspondent for Westwood. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org