Two Sunshine Coast residents were honoured for their commitment to crime prevention last week, one for his lifetime of achievement and one for her youth leadership initiative.
On Nov. 2 the Ministry of Justice and the B.C. Crime Prevention Association honoured Sechelt's Edwin Keeling and recent Elphinstone Secondary School graduate Charlene Smith through the Ministry of Justice Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards. This year the awards took place in conjunction with Crime Prevention Week, which ran from Nov. 1 to 7.
Keeling, 88, was given the Anthony J. Hulme Award of Distinction for his lifetime contribution and commitment to crime prevention and community safety. Smith received the youth leadership award in recognition of the program she organized last year that saw Odd Squad Productions and Children of the Street Society visit Coast schools to spread their crime prevention message.
Keeling has worked in crime prevention since the 1940s when he first joined the police service in the United Kingdom after serving in the military.
After two years he was promoted to detective and was sent to Hendon Police College, which was staffed by senior officers of New Scotland Yard.
When he moved to Canada in 1955 Keeling signed up with the Toronto police force; however, he left the force to work in the oil and gas sector in 1956. His crime prevention past would follow him, though.
In the 1970s Keeling was asked to sit on a crime prevention committee being set up by the mayor of Ottawa.
A neighbour who was familiar with Keeling's years in the police force nominated him for the position.
“So I ended up working with the Ottawa City Police and I started up the Block Watch program. I mobilized every house around where I lived and got them all organized,” Keeling said.
It was the beginning of what would be a long commitment to the Block Watch program in Ottawa and later British Columbia.
Keeling's sister lived on the Sunshine Coast in Madeira Park. In 1995 Keeling decided to move to the Coast to help her care for her ailing husband. Once here his sister volunteered him for another crime prevention position — helping start the Pender Harbour community police office. He got heavily involved in that effort as well as setting up more than 30 Block Watch areas on the Sunshine Coast. For the past 17 years he has given countless hours to volunteering at the Pender police office and setting up local Block Watch programs.
“Ed Keeling is a fixture at the community policing office in Pender Harbour and is one of those people who give continuously and selflessly,” said Sunshine Coast RCMP Staff Sgt. Herb Berdahl. “He is one of our longest-serving volunteers and has been involved in crime prevention for decades. He is an engaging individual who is committed to both serving and sharing his wealth of knowledge for the benefit of others.”
Berdahl was equally impressed with Smith's dedication to crime prevention and the award she won for her 2011 program geared toward Sunshine Coast youth.
Smith's program brought in outside agencies to teach important safety skills to high school and elementary students.
“Unfortunately sometimes, as police officers, we deal with the negative side of society quite frequently, and what you see here is exactly the opposite,” Berdahl said. “The future bodes well for us as a country and as a community when there are young people like Charlene out there.”
If you would like to volunteer with the Pender Harbour community policing office, Keeling urges you to call 604-883-2026.
“We need a bunch more volunteers to help out,” he said, noting volunteers need no specific skill sets but must pass a criminal records check.
Smith is also looking for local youth who want to carry her crime prevention torch now that she is off-Coast studying at the University of Victoria.
If you would like to get involved and organize a youth crime prevention project for the Coast next year, contact Smith at email@example.com.