Community works together to address crime (Michelle Nash, Ottawa East News)

In the wake of police charging five men in relation to what was Ottawa’s first homicide of the year, the community’s focus remains on working together.

Mohamed Najdi, 28, was killed at the Yule Manor Co-operative on Claremont Drive in Manor Park in what police said was a targeted gang-related shooting on January 10. Najdi was a known gang member with prior charges and did not live in the area, according to police.

On April 10, police charged five men with first degree murder and kidnapping in connection with the murder; Lual Lual, 26, Ali Elenezi, 18, Mohamed Yusuf, 25, Alaa Asiri, 33 and Mohamed Mohamed, 32.

After the January homicide, Manor Park Community Association president Sebastien LaRochelle-Cote said the group took immediate steps to inform residents about the situation and asked residents to collaborate with the police investigation.

“The safety of our residents is extremely important to us and we are closely monitoring the development of the investigation in this case,” LaRochelle-Cote said.  “While the whole issue has been a challenge to our community, Manor Park is a closely-knit community and I do believe that working together will be key to maintain a safe and secure environment in this area.” 

Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum said he was pleased to hear the police had made arrests in the case.

“The fact that the police have made an arrest, helps put your mind at ease,” Nussbaum said.

In response to this homicide, Nussbaum announced that Crime Prevention Ottawa and the Rideau-Rockcliffe Resource Centre were developing what they called a post incident protocol.

This pilot project, fleshed out in Overbrook, helped establish a framework to help residents recover from violent crime. In April, the protocol was launched city-wide.

The Overbrook Community Association worked on the project and have called the protocol a success.

“The project was excellent,” said community association president Rawslon King. “We needed a mechanism where we can reach out to neighbours to let them know what is going on. Obviously you can’t interfere with police, but we needed to have something to let residents know what is happening.”

Operating like an updated, more technology advanced phone tree, the project allows the association to hear from police about what is taking place after a violent crime.

King said the model ensures they were able to coordinate and inform residents by either email or teleconference to let them know if it’s safe to leave their homes, or let them know why there is a police presence in the neighbourhood.

“Everybody talks to one another and the police give a briefing, they get you beyond a press release and it gives you a sense of what is going on, on the ground – a least gives you some level some information.”

Operating city-wide, King said it can offer other community associations the ability to customize the protocols for their own response to violent incidents.

Nussbaum said working with the other community groups helped him appreciate all the groups and organizations that operate in the ward that care and offer unique perspectives and tools they use in a crisis.

He added that he was really pleased with how the pilot project worked.

Whether the protocol could also reduce overall crime in the area, King was not convinced, but he felt it would help keep a community together after an incident has happened.

“Before, a crime would happen and no one would talk to one another – and that was pretty detrimental,” King said, adding that the association received an email from one resident who was afraid to leave their home after a shooting on Lilas Private in July 2015.

“We think it's good that all these groups are for once, sitting down and talking to one another,”

King said the association now has a plan in place, where they can accurately reach out to its more than 650 members to let people know what is going on.

Looking to the future, Nussbaum said he intends to continue to work with his communities.

“I think community by community we will be thinking about crime reduction and prevention,” he said, adding he believes building a sense of community and belonging and focusing on building community identity is equally important.  

Source: Ottawa East News