June 15th, 2024

Police launch initiatives toward accountability, social responsiveness

By Tim Kalinowski on May 28, 2021.

Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski - Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh displays his Blackfoot name, bestowed on him the day he took on his role with the Lethbridge Police Service.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Police Service has launched various initiatives to make the service more accountable and more responsive to the diverse social needs of the community.
During Wednesday’s Lethbridge Police Commission meeting, the LPS brought commissioners up to date on some of those initiatives. Chief of Police Shahin Mehdizadeh informed commissioners one small, but important step, was to allow officers on the force who have been honoured with a Blackfoot name by local Elders to display that name under their regular name patch on their uniforms.
“It is certainly an honour for anyone to be given a Blackfoot name, and based on our outreach to Indigenous communities, and respect for the community, we want to make sure we show that through action, not just words,” said Mehdizadeh. “And this is one of those action items. In fact, I have also approved officers to be wearing the (City’s) ‘Oki’ pin on all of our uniform members if people choose to wear them. It is part of our actions to show respect to the Indigenous community and ensuring what we do is actually reflective of working with them to make sure everybody gets the respect they deserve in the community.”
Mehdizadeh was also thrilled with the recent authorization from Alberta Health Services to provide one new crisis worker to the LPS’s Police and Crisis Team (PACT). The PACT unit responds to situations involving individuals experiencing a mental health, addictions, or psycho-social crisis.
By adding one AHS crisis worker in partnership with a serving officer, the LPS will bring another full time PACT unit onto the streets of Lethbridge. This would double the amount of PACT units in the city to two.
“AHS has actually approved one position to be with us to create a second PACT team,” confirmed Mehdizadeh, “which will be working in concert with the first one. That way we are really extending the working hours, and also we are looking at much more timely engagement and action on certain calls for service versus going to tend to them after the fact.”
The PACT has proven effective and is much-needed in Lethbridge, said Mehdizadeh, and he hopes to bring even more units online as resources allow in the future.
“By increasing those resources, by doubling those resources, I believe we are going to get more than double the return on investment on what we are doing,” he explained. “Eventually my dream is to have four of these units working 24/7 with each patrol team to really provide much better service to the community, and our client group who are suffering from mental health.”
In another step forward for the betterment of the service, the Human Resources Committee of the Lethbridge Police Commission in partnership with the Lethbridge Police Association and the LPS executive will be launching a Workplace Culture Survey which will be provided to all employees of the police force.
“This is a survey we want to provide to every employee, and this not just police officers– it’s every employee at Lethbridge Police to engage in,” confirmed Mehdizadeh. “I know the HR Committee is leading that in consultation with the LPA, and also with the executive, to try to come up with appropriate questions to get everyone engaged on that survey to get some hopefully meaningful information moving forward.”
It is hoped the survey will help address the sometimes fractious relationship between the LPA and the LPS executive to find a better way forward, and will take the temperature of how employees serving with the LPS feel about the workplace environment, explained Mehdizadeh.
Mehdizadeh said the Workplace Culture Survey only builds on the internal efforts he and his staff have already been making in forging a better working relationship with the LPA.
“There is a huge amount of unity and respect right now going from the executive and LPA,” stated Mehdizadeh. “We are moving on the same front to make sure we push our agenda forward to ensure we have a better department and a more accountable department to serve this community.”
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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Citi Zen

Anyone besides myself getting awfully tired of special treatment for certain segments of society?
Treat every person equally, regardless of race, including whites. EQUALLY… no special treatment, no exceptions. Enough already!