June 18th, 2024

Crime reduction methodology a targeted approach for LPS

By Dale Woodard on June 5, 2021.

Crime reduction methodology is a critical piece in dealing with local wrongdoers, said Lethbridge Police Service police chief Shahin Mehdizadeh, who was the guest speaker at the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Virtual Town Hall session Tuesday morning.
Speaking to the online gathering, the LPS police chief focused on the pillars of crime reduction, profile offenders, crime hot spots, root cause of crime, patrol deployment, youth engagement and communty well being.
“Since my arrival it has taken several months of hard work by our IT staff, crime analyists and leadership to put it together,” said Mehdizadeh. “I have put this model in place in many communities and it has brought up really good results. This was not unique, this was created in New York. But this targets three different facets of dealing with crime in a community.”
The first is prolific offender management.
“It’s common knowledge that a small minority of the criminals are committing most of the crime in any community,” said Mehdizadeh. “So by having our focus targeted at them we can bring a much better return on investment as to our resources and what we’re doing. By identifying these prolific offenders we can better target who is committing the crime and as a result of doing that, we’re going to drive crime down.”
Mehdizadeh said this takes a partnership with the Crown council.
“We just had a meeting with our Crown and they are fully supportive of this and doing their part within the judicial process to make sure these individuals are held accountable.”
But Mehdizadeh added there are two other components of criminals, people who are suffering from mental health and addiction.
“So even though they’re prolific offenders, we’re still mindful that maybe throwing cuffs on them and throwing them in jail is not the best option,” he said. “There we try to work with different agencies to see if we can provide help to them and partner with other agencies. Hopefully we can change some of these individual’s path in life to get out of committing crime and becoming productive citizens. But we’ll provide every opportunity for them through our connections. If they choose to take that road, that’s great. If not, we’ll continue our enforcement action and hold them accountable because our citizens don’t need to be victimized regardless of what is fuelling that criminal behaviour.”
Mehdizadeh also touched on knowing what trends are happening within the community.
“Our analytical approach to this is wherever we see crime going on a negative trend, which is up, we need to be mindful of that,” he said. “We have monthly meetings to bring all the team leads into a room, giving them a true picture of what’s happening in Lethbridge in crime and different trends, who is out of jail and how is committing the crimes. That way, every team leader is fully engaged and fully knowledgeable what’s going on in the community. From there, each team leader will provide the group with what they’re going to do about it.”
Mehdizadeh said his expectation is the team leader will make committments as to what they’re going to do.
“This includes every team leader from The Watch to the PACT (Police and Crisis Team) to Community Peace Officers to the drug and traffic unit. Everybody has to make a committment to what they’re going to do. Next month when we meet we’ll see what they’ve done. They’ll report their committments to the group and we’ll show them the picture of crime and how their efforts have resulted in hopefully significant improvement in that neighbourhood that is targeted.
“From there we look at the crime map again and see what trends are going on and then new committments are provided.”
Discussing the root cause of crime and how different social programs can help get the individuals the help they need, Mehdizadeh said that involves a significant effort from the City and the community wellness and safety initiative that is going on, and the police are a part of that.
“One thing about crime is it will always be in the community,” he said. “There are no communities with zero crime. It will never happen. But how do we manage the crime that has been happening and get ahead of that? I think that’s a critical piece. I think a realistic approach in dealing with crime is that we’re never going to have a crime-free city, it’s just a matter of how we work to reduce it.”
As far as patrol deployment and shifting strategy – a pilot project – Mehdizadeh said the LPS are deploying shifts that increase the number of officers in certain time periods where they have more calls for service.
“This way, the officers don’t have to be working so much harder,” he said.
“There are extra resources doing those high volume calls so they can better serve the community, hopefully reducing the response time. We’re doing that for a year and then after that we’re going to have a review and consultation with the officers taking part in that to see if they want to make that into a permanent model.
“For now, they are trending well and serving the community better,” said Mehdizadeh.
The LPS is also redefining its school resource officer program, said Mehdizadeh.
While a big supporter of the program, the police chief said the only problem is the school resource officer works in that capacity during school months and then they’re used elsewhere during the summer months.
“I don’t believe they’ve given them a true identity as to the good work they’re doing, engaging with our youth and making a difference out there,” he said. “They spend a lot of time reaching out to our at-risk youth during the school year, building relationships with them and then when summer comes they’re hands off. When school is back, because there hasn’t been any contact, they have to start at square one.”
Mehdizadeh said they want to change the mandate, making sure they’re school resource officers, but also youth engagement officers.
“I want them to be true experts in youth. We have drug units and the homicide unit in this department. I want this unit to be one of those specialized units to serve the community, making sure anything youth-related can go to them because they have the connections, relationships with the youth and expertise to deal with that. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can come up with with the new mandate and give them the credit they deserve with their day-to-day work.
Mehdizadeh believes the initiative will help the front line patrol teams as well.
“Because then they have a dedicated unit and most things youth-related can be deferred to the team so they can take the time to address the issues and serve the youth in the community.
“If all these efforts change the life of one youth for the next five years, it’s worthwhile. To me, that’s the approach we’re taking.”

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Dale, does anyone proofread or edit your articles?

Profile = prolific ?!

“How is committing the crimes?!” Should be “who is committing the crimes”

Last edited 3 years ago by knowlton