By Lethbridge Herald on June 18, 2021.
Lethbridge Police Service welcomed badly needed reinforcements as it swore in four new officers and two new community peace officers at a special ceremony on Friday.
“We have vacancies,” admitted Lethbridge Chief of Police Shahin Mehdizadeh, “and the two previous police officers who graduated earlier a few months ago, and with the four added (today), plus the two CPOs, is going to help us to fill in these vacant spots in our ranks, and better manage our challenges.”
Mehdizadeh acknowledged the cadets were coming in during a challenging time for the police service with several active investigations going on into alleged police misconduct and the department under the microscope of Justice Minister Kaycee Madu. But these new officers, he said, also represented the future of the police service, and a new way of doing things.
“As you know, policing over the years has gone through many challenges and evolutions when you look at the world of policing,” he stated.
“This is no different today. The new cadets of today are the future leaders of tomorrow. I just want them to take advantage of every opportunity they have to learn, grow and serve the community. I am sure in 30 years they will be doing the same thing for the people who are hired at that time.”
Newly appointed officer Brooklyn Peterson, who was also named top cadet of this training class, said it was a message she and her classmates had taken to heart.
“It seems like the worst time to go into policing, but it is actually the best time for us,’ said Peterson, echoing statements made by Lethbridge Police Association president Jay Macmillan earlier in his speech to the cadets. “I just know the eight of us are very excited; so even though things are not what it used to be, we didn’t know what it used to be. We are going into this with fresh eyes, and hopefully be able to help change some of those things.”
The graduation ceremony on Friday also emphasized partnership and collaboration, as joining the LPS cadets were four cadets from the Blood Tribe Police Service who have been training in Lethbridge for the past six months.
“More and more today police work is about collaboration and partnerships between (all) police officers,” said Mehdizadeh. “Criminals don’t have boundaries, and neither should we. This is a great opportunity to work collaboratively with our brothers and sisters in Blood Tribe because our citizens cross borders all the time, and we need to keep them safe regardless of what community they are in.”
Blood Tribe Chief of Police Kyle Melting Tallow said training through Lethbridge College, and with fellow police forces in southern Alberta such as the LPS, Medicine Hat Police and Taber Police these past four graduating classes have built strong bonds between all the police services.
“It has been a really successful program,” he said. “We have had a lot more interest in policing in the region because the training is done in the region.”
From the Blood Tribe’s perspective, said Melting Tallow, training close to home has allowed new cadets to link up with local Elders from the Blackfoot peoples of the immediate region at the very start of their policing careers.
“It really affords our officers a starting point and a contact before they get out to the community with relationship building with the connection to the community which is very important in the way we police,” he said. “Certainly this has been a good process for us, and we are happy to be partnering with Lethbridge College throughout this program.”
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