Mission Crime Prevention Office coordinator Rimmi Purewal (pictured) started her role in March 2020 and has watched the organization evolve through the pandemic. /Submitted Photo

Mission Crime Prevention Office coordinator Rimmi Purewal (pictured) started her role in March 2020 and has watched the organization evolve through the pandemic. /Submitted Photo

Rimmi Purewal leading Mission’s Crime Prevention Office past pandemic

The office is seeing volunteers return after a steep decline during the pandemic

When COVID-19 was fully thrust into the public consciousness in March 2020, Rimmi Purewal had just started her role as Mission’s crime prevention coordinator.

“My first training day was the day after the doors had shut down for all businesses,” Purewal said.

The new job presented new challenges. Purewal says she doesn’t have a frame of reference for what the job was like pre-pandemic.

“It was quite challenging for me during the pandemic at first to even get a grasp on the programs because unless you’re operating them, it’s like reading a textbook,” she said.

Volunteer numbers decreased significantly and the Crime Prevention Office was operating with Purewal at her desk along with one other volunteer. There was little face-to-face interaction with most duties involving email and phone calls. Business closures yielded complaints to the Crime Prevention Office about graffiti and potential break and enters.

Despite the challenges the pandemic presented, Purewal pushed prevention in different ways.

“I started up an Instagram page for the Mission Crime Prevention Office and I was having the RCMP post videos on their Twitter page,” Purewal said

Purewal helped to get the Lougheed Highway mural project started due to increased concerns with graffiti during the pandemic.

“It’s stunning. I mean, obviously, eyes on the road but when you have an opportunity to sit as a passenger, it’s a stunning piece.”

READ MORE: Mission’s Brad Unger multi-tasks as a teacher and firefighter

As restrictions eased, the office found ways to work within the limitations to still provide programming such as Speed Watch.

“We had two volunteers – we weren’t allowed more than two- that would sit in the front and the back of the van,” Purewal said. “We were one of the very few detachments that was able to safely move forward and even take part in Speed Watch activities during that time.”

Almost two years later, volunteers are back with the Crime Prevention Office. Purewal is the sole employee with 25 active volunteers under her direction and she hopes to recruit 15 to 20 more before the end of the summer.

Before accepting the job of crime prevention coordinator, Purewal worked with police services in Mission since 2014 and got her start in Surrey. She worked as a privacy and information officer and quality assurance officer overseeing and reviewing police files for accuracy, in addition to working with traffic services.

“It’s really given me a depth of understanding with how the back end of policing works,” Purewal said.

“There were incorrect perceptions of how things were being done [with police]. With the past positions, and the knowledge I was able to acquire over the years, it really helped in raising that awareness with our community members and their questions.”

The Mission Crime Prevention Office manages programs such as Speed Watch, Block Watch, BEAT Patrol, Citizens on Patrol (COPS) and Lock Out Auto Crime. The Crime Prevention Office does not generate or speak to police files.

“A lot of the work we do here is all around education and awareness around various different crime prevention techniques, target hardening, community safety, and it’s all done through various community-based programs.”

The Shine Bright Mission event is slated for March 3 and will feature 16 custom-designed light displays to represent a community organization, landmark, or local connection.


@dillon_white
dillon.white@missioncityrecord.com

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