(L-R): Scott Russell, REBGV president
Peter German, Assistant Commissioner, RCMP
Paul Penner, FVREB president

One of the province’s top police officers considers the Realty Watch program an important community program that helps police across the Lower Mainland keep our neighbourhoods safe.

“Realty Watch is a shining example of what one group can do to help make their communities safer places to live,” said Assistant Commissioner Peter German, Lower Mainland District RCMP. “This is because REALTORS® are uniquely positioned to observe activities in their neighbourhoods.”

Realty Watch is a community crime prevention program operating across the Lower Mainland, from Whistler to Hope and every community in between. More than 13,000 REALTORS® assist police by acting as ‘extra eyes and ears’ in their communities, and by responding to ‘fan-outs’ or text messages that ask members to be on the lookout for a missing child or senior citizen.

German was the keynote speaker at the 10th Annual Realty Watch Police Breakfast held in Surrey, September 24, 2009.

Sponsored by the Greater Vancouver (REBGV) and Fraser Valley (FVREB) real estate boards, it was hosted by Scott Russell, REBGV president, 2009-10 and Paul Penner, FVREB president, 2009-10. The event drew a record number of senior police officers, REBGV and FVREB directors, and former Realty Watch committee members.

Public safety

German said public safety is the main concern for police, and having partners to assist them is of tremendous help.

In particular, he talked to the group about the problems associated with gangs and illegal drug activity. He described how the US is the largest illegal drug consumer in the world. Because of our close location and conveniently situated shipping ports and airports, the Lower Mainland is an ideal place for the production and shipment of illegal drugs to the US.

In order to counteract the growth of gangs and drugs, information gathered from the Financial Transactions Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and other financial intelligence is of high value. FINTRAC is Canada’s financial intelligence unit. It facilitates the detection, prevention and deterrence of money laundering or other threats to Canada’s security.

German and his colleagues have received briefings from FINTRAC saying data collected and analysed from the Lower Mainland has highlighted instances of money laundering and marijuana grow-operations. They are appreciative of REALTORS® role in helping gather some of this information.

How REALTORS® help

“REALTORS® want to be part of the solution and to help police in the most effective way possible,” said Scott Russell, REBGV president. “Although the FINTRAC regulations were difficult to implement and maintain, it’s gratifying for us to know that the police are achieving concrete results from this information.”

Concluding his discussion, German outlined how REALTORS® could help with police efforts to minimise the impact of organised crime.

“Because of your experience, REALTORS® know what’s right and what’s unusual. We’re asking you to report signs of grow-ops or other drug activity, to be aware of who you’re doing business with, and to tell us if you think something doesn’t add up.”