Fridge magnets being used to fight vandalism at Winnipeg schools
Metro Winnipeg - Bernice Pontanilla: 3 August 2012 - The Manitoba School Boards Association is employing a new technique to prevent vandalism at city schools: fridge magnets.
Towards the end of June and through July, letters were delivered to owners and residents of homes that border school properties all over the city asking them to be their “eyes and ears when schools are not in session.”
The letter included a fridge magnet with the message “Report School Vandalism” and the phone number 204-231-4556.
Keith Thomas, risk manager for the Manitoba School Boards Association, said the phone number connects the caller with the Corps of Commissionaires, who would send out a vehicle to the scene.
If determined to be a more serious situation, the Corps would then call Winnipeg Police.
“We see a fair bit of vandalism, especially in the summer… certain schools get harder hit than others,” said Thomas. “We want to say to people you’re still welcome to come and visit the playgrounds during normal hours, but you shouldn’t be there after dark.”
Thomas said that in the month of July, they received 70 phone calls, with 10-15 being a bit more serious in nature. The commissionaires are on contract from June until the end of September.
School divisions have spent up to $2.5 million in repair costs related to vandalism in the past — a major reason why the fridge magnet campaign was developed.
Thomas said the response has been so positive, they plan on continuing the program next summer and likely beyond.
Peter Kotyk, chairman of the board of trustees of the city’s second biggest school division, River East Transcona, said he believes this new initiative is a good idea.
“There’s a lot of vandalism at schools and the public pays for it,” said Kotyk, adding that he encourages homeowners to go to their neighbouring schools and introduce themselves to the principals and staff.
“It comes out of our budgets and it’s money lost.”
Kotyk said another benefit is police are only called in when the incident is more serious.
Also, he hopes people call the numbers and do not place their safety in jeopardy by taking matters into their own hands. That’s what the commissionaires and police are for, he added.
Commissionaires is a not-for-profit security solutions organization that has been protecting Canadians for 87 years. Their mandate is to provide meaningful employment to veterans of the Canadian Forces and RCMP.
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