White Pony Lodge Patrol The Streets
By Anthony J. Mountjoy | Fri, 08 Jul 2016 08:00:00 EST
Because of its level of crime, Maclean's declared Regina's North Central as the worst neighbourhood in Canada in 2007.
Although the label helped draw attention to the issues faced by community members and prompted some action (such as the Regina Anti-Gang Strategy which was defunded in 2011), crime is still a big issue, and North Central continues to be one of the worst neighbourhoods in Canada.
This state of affairs has prompted community members to start fighting back and to "retake" the neighbourhood. The White Pony Lodge is a volunteer group of citizens who will patrol the streets and, through their visible presence, hope to "intimidate" criminals with the fear of getting caught/reported to the police, while also instilling a sense of pride within the community.
Already we are seeing new information coming out of the hardest pressed areas. New gang activity, a new generation fuelling local gun crimes. A spat of arrests seems to be working it from the other side. Citizen "vigilante" groups-community members banding together to improve conditions in their neighborhoods-aren't new. Winnipeg has the Bear Clan Patrol (which the White Pony Lodge has sort of modeled itself after). The Guardian Angels have chapters around the world. Even Hamas, despite its purported links to terrorism, works to make its communities safer.
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What's important to recognize is that all of these groups exist because the current system fails the communities that it's supposed to support and protect. Although all crime in North Central is down from its peak in 2008,  the overall level of crime hasn't really changed since 2006. (Though to be fair, the level of crime hasn't really changed throughout the city either, so it's hard to claim that only North Central hasn't seen any progress.) But the stigma of "worse neighbourhood in Canada", combined with the visible evidence of a lack of progress by the local government over the years, may have community members fed up
and finally taking matters into their own hands.
Will the White Pony Lodge be successful in reducing crime in North Central? It's hard to say right now. It's certainly likely that community members' presence on the streets will make criminals think twice about where they operate. And as a result, crime may be reduced in North Central (and possibly shifted to other areas of the city). And while a shift in where crime occurs may not reduce overall crime immediately, by shifting crime into wealthier neighbourhoods and showing that there's a bigger problem, more pressure may be placed on local authorities to take action and serve their citizens effectively. Although data for other neighbourhoods were reported in 2009, these data were missing for North Central.
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