As part of the Service’s Summer Safety Initiative, officers from 11 and 22 Divisions have, over the past month, been meeting with many local neighbourhoods and engaging in robust discussions about community safety.
Through a combination of town hall and Community Police Liaison Committee meetings, social media programs and numerous interactive “Coffee with the Cops” conversations at local coffee shops, the lines of interpersonal, and face-to-face communication with various neighbourhoods have increased greatly.
"Our goal involves identifying neighbourhood safety concerns, perceptions of crime, fear and disorder directly from, and unfiltered though the experiences of community members," said 11 & 22 Divisions Superintendent Heinz Kuck. "Intimate and interactive conversations allow us to discuss community-based experiences and potential solutions, as well as identifying community assets which can be drawn upon as a resource to help in the cause. Many excellent suggestions were brought forward from community members, including safety audits, enhanced Crime Stoppers programs, enhanced youth recreation and employment opportunities and community "Take back the street" walks and vigils. Achieving a safe community is based on the formula of inclusiveness, innovation and creativity."
Crime and disorder management is one of the most important, and fundamental obligations as they serve and protect our various communities. Both Divisions expend time and energy to analyze, assess, and review the way they do business when it comes to crime prevention and crime suppression.
“We take great pride in pulling together our data, our crime stats from reported crime, time span analysis, thematic mapping and the like," said Crime Prevention Officer Steve Moniz, who developed a crime prevention tool kit, which includes 17 crime prevention brochures. “We take equal pride in looking towards our frontline officers to offer their experience and observations, as well as information from our partners such as Crime Stoppers and local community agencies.”
One of the recent “coffee with the cops” locations was the Hale Coffee on Campbell Avenue.
“This was the perfect location," said Crime Prevention Officer Jan Barr. “Not only did it represent an area of ongoing gentrification and population growth, but the business itself recently were victims of a break & enter, so they became an invested and indispensable participant in our discussion.”
Inspector Riyaz Hussein, who works out of 22 Division, said the events in the community were worthwhile.
“It served as a great opportunity for our Neighbourhood Officers to meet local community members in advance of the Neighbourhood Officer expansion this fall. During the evening of our last Coffee with the Cops we had over 50 local residents attend and were extremely receptive and welcoming to the Community Response Unit and Neighbourhood officers who attended. It was great to watch officers and community members build positive relationships in a conversation-centric setting."
It was great to learn from the community also, said 11 Division Inspector Chris Boddy.
“Many of the folks I spoke with indicated that they appreciated having casual conversations with the police and appreciated that we had the event. This also provided an opportunity to remind community members that the Service is hiring both civilian and uniform positions," he said.
Superintendent Heinz Kuck said it's not often police get to hear from a wide variety of residents, who often don't reach out to the police believing the information they have is not worthwhile to report.
“When some are victimized, the crime is not reported, they feel the crime is either too insignificant for police intervention, or there is an experience of embarrassment, anger, fear, lack of trust, the list goes on. Additionally, residents may hear or see crime and disorder, make mention in family conversation or over the fence post with a neighbour, but that information is suppressed and does not make its way to the local Division," Kuck said. "This hidden victimization, silenced by personal choice, is a treasure trove of information waiting to be unearthed. Thus when added to our intelligence, we are then more able to accurately deploy our people at the right place and at the right time.”