Vol. 80, No. 1Q & A

A man, a woman and a male police officer stand in a living room.

One house at a time

Program helps victims of property crime feel safe again

Aux. Michael Dally, left, meets with homeowners who are the victims of property crime, often accompanied by RCMP police officers, such as Cst. Ali Dakhlallah. Credit: Courtesy of Aux. Michael Dally, RCMP

Since graduating from the RCMP's Auxiliary Program in 2014, Michael Dally leaves a lasting impression wherever he goes. He won a police officer of the year award for saving the life of a suicidal man in Richmond, B.C., and recently created the Secure-Us Program. Deidre Seiden spoke to Dally about how this program is improving community safety in Oceanside, B.C.

How did you come up with the Secure-Us Program?

When I transferred to the RCMP's Oceanside detachment in B.C., from Richmond detachment, I wanted to start a program that would connect with the public. I started off trying to find things that Auxiliaries could do that would be positive and get them out in the communities.

Oceanside has an older demographic and things like break and enters get a lot press coverage. I think the public believes, based on what they read in the papers, that they live in a community riddled by crime. But in Oceanside, that's simply not the case. And this is not a criticism of police officers by any means, but generally, when a member goes out to a break and enter, they'll do a general investigation, they'll leave a card with a file number and then they go to the next call.

I think if you spoke with the general public, they would feel underwhelmed by that response because it's a massive thing to them. I wanted to bridge that gap. I wanted to create a program that I'm going to call a bit of handholding, if nothing else. With the support of the detachment commander, S/Sgt. Mark Pelletier, I was able to do that. We sit with old people, disabled people and vulnerable people. We give them back their confidence and that feeling of being safe.

What is it?

There's life before someone is burgled and life after they are burgled. Burglaries change people. When you've been burgled and someone has been all through your home; that's trauma.

What I do is I go out after a person has been the victim of a break and enter. And I'm CPTED trained — that's crime prevention through environmental design. I'm trained in knowing how to make your house safe going forward.Secure-Us is a play on words. We don't only help hard target and secure your home and give you advice to do that, we also give you the emotional security to be strong and make sure this action isn't going to change you.

How does it work?

I made a checklist of the house from the outside in, covering off the whole house. I go out and I spend a few hours with people, going through their house with the checklist and just give them really good solid advice about how to ensure that going forward, their home is secure.

Since we started this program several months ago, we've done about 100 of these surveys. A lot of people are now contacting us who haven't even been victims because they've heard about it and want to have one done.

What should police officers know about it?

The program does three things. It engages the RCMP officers with the auxiliaries. It gives them another reason to be working together in partnership with a common goal. And it's auxiliary-led. It doesn't have to be a burden to the member. All the member has to do is refer it to the Auxiliary Program. I think that gives our regular members the confidence to move on to the next file because they've done something positive.

Could other detachments benefit from this program?

I'd like to see every detachment across Canada have this program. I think it would bring enormous value to communities. I really do. We make a difference in people's lives once they have been a victim of a break and enter. And we go into their house and give them solid, practical advice about protecting themselves in the future and that makes a big difference in people's lives.

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