June 19th, 2024

Chief say LPS initiatives provide a return for community

By Dale Woodard on June 3, 2021.

The Lethbridge Police Service are moving forward with a number of actions and initiatives that police chief Shahin Mehdizadeh is confident will provide ample return to the public.
Mehdizadeh was the guest speaker at the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Virtual Town Hall session Tuesday morning.
In his hour-long presentation, which covered a variety of topics and concluded with a question-and-answer period, Mehdizadeh spoke of some intiatives the LPS are employing to reduce crime, focusing on the Priority Crimes Unit, the Community Peace Officer, The Watch and the Police And Crisis Team (PACT).
The Priority Crimes Unit features fully-engaged teams, said Mehdizadeh.
“They’re working every day and they’ve brought many amazing results through their enforcement action in the community, holding those individuals accountable for committing a lot of crime and making this commmunity safer every day.”
The Community Peace Officer (CPO), The Watch and PACT are programs which were approved recently by City Council for funding.
“They’ve been in existance for two years now and are already showing significant improvement in different tiers and levels of providing public safety measures for the community,” said Mehdizadeh.
The Community Peace Officers take calls that police officers would otherwise be facing, said Mehdizadeh.
“A lot of the calls they’re taking don’t need a police officer, somebody with a gun on their hip. So in that regard they’ve taken some of the load off the frontline officers so they can focus more on dealing with the core mandate of policing and reducing crime. But what the CPOs do in the community is certainly reducing crime from that perspective.”
The Watch is a program for volunteers of all ages and different walks of life who put their time in to serve the community, said Mehdizadeh.
“We’re getting great comments on what they do and how they’re serving the community, especially in the downtown core to make it a safer place.”
Mehdizadeh said The Watch’s engagement with the homeless and people who are suffering addiction and mental health is critical.
“They’re not just out there walking and making sure citizens see them and keep them safe. They are actually connecting our folks who are dealing with addiction and mental health and connecting them with the right agencies to provide support for them. That’s the most critical piece of this group. They have a big network they have already established and in doing so, they are serving the citizens of this community to get the help they need so they can get on the right path and get the right agencies dealing with them.”
The last piece, said Mehdizadeh, is the Police and Crisis Team.
“This team is one police officer and one Alberta Health Agency employee who partner to deal with our client group who are suffering from mental health and giving them the response and service they deserve, more than just a handcuff on the wrist and being taken away,” he said. “They are taking a proactive action and making a difference in people’s lives to give them the treatment and the services they need. It’s a program which has been established in many other jurisdictions and I’m really pleased to say we have one team which has been supported.
However, Alberta Health has come up with another body to create two teams, said Mehdizadeh.
“We are going to identify one more individual to have two teams working, which is going to extend the hours of operation into the evening hours and provide many more hours of service to our community and dealing with people who are suffering from mental health and give them the service they deserve. I’m really optimistic about this venture.”
Mehdizadeh said the eventual perfect model would be to have four teams going 24/7 to provide immediate service to clients.
“But two is better than one. We just have to keep taking baby steps to move forward on that front, but I’m very optimistic about this new team. It’s going to double in size, but it can guarantee the return on investment is going to be much more than double.”
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