June 20th, 2024

LPS unveils strategic plan at commission meeting

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on February 25, 2023.

Herald photo by Al Beeber The Lethbridge Police Service 2023-26 strategic plan was unveiled at the monthly meeting of the Lethbridge Police Commission.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Police Service 2023-26 strategic plan was unveiled Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the Lethbridge Police Commission.

In a report, commission chair Dawna Coslovi said the plan identifies goals which LPS will be focusing on in coming years.

“The 2022 Community Survey completed by citizens clearly showed that while the majority are satisfied with policing services,safety within our community is paramount on their minds,” wrote the chair in a message in the plan’s report.

“LPS takes a balanced approach between intervention and enforcement which includes collaboration and partnership with social programming to address mental health and

addiction challenges faced in our city. The service will increase frontline and civilian staffing to address capacity issues while ensuring the well-being and resilience of all employees. The effective utilization of technology to analyze and respond will also assist in reducing crime,” Coslovi added.

The chair said in the future citizens of Lethbridge will see more opportunities to engage with the LPS to discuss concerns, needs and initiatives to promote and raise awareness about what individuals can do to enhance public safety and create a safer space for everyone in the city.

The police commission, she wrote, supports the LPS in its plan and is confident the force will achieve its goals.

In the report, LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh said policing is a partnership and the success of the strategic plan is contingent upon collaboration with the LPS’s partners in the city and all levels of government “to develop and implement strategies that address the root causes of crime, reduce recidivism and provide meaningful, long-term change that benefits all of our citizens.”

The chief wrote that the LPS will continue to be leaders in public safety and will evolve to meet the changing needs of residents while remaining at the forefront of community policing “to champion relationships with our diverse communities and explore opportunities for innovation.”

The LPS presently employs 160 police officers,four community peace officers, 70.5 civilian staff and 42 volunteers in Victims Services and 20 in The Watch.

In an average year, the LPS responds to more than 36,000 calls and more than 8,000 Criminal Code charges are laid while almost 7,000 traffic tickets are issued.

The report on the strategic plan says Lethbridge continues to be impacted by drug use and abuse which results in property crime targeting citizens.

“Opportunistic crimes, including break-ins and thefts, are committed to fund addictions and a lack of support and treatment options contribute to an inability to permanently break the cycle of crime,” says the LPS.

Police are also encountering increasing numbers of people who would benefit from mental health and other support services instead of enforcement. Police are the first responders to such calls and have the responsibility of protecting both people and property. The plan says both policing and social supports have a role to play in finding long-term solutions.

The plan notes that law enforcement agencies are dealing with challenges recruiting qualified applicants and have also faced challenges meeting the demands for new officers. The LPS say it’s imperative that law enforcement agencies reflect the demographics of the communities they service and work toward increasing diversity among their ranks.

In the next four years, the LPS needs to add 48 sworn officers to address retirements and attrition. It also needs to add seven more community peace officers and 15 full-time civilian staff.

The report notes that while enforcement is the primary function of policing, it’s not the only solution to reducing crime.

“Arrests and detention may immediately address issues of crime and disorder, but in

many cases they are not long-term solutions and do not lead to meaningful change for the individual involved or the broader community,” says the LPS.

The force says it is “committed to a balanced approach between enforcement and interventions to help transition people to health or social systems resulting in a better outcome for individuals and the community as well as a reduction in demands on the justice system and police.”

The LPS is committed to providing adequate staffing and the appropriate deployment of resources to the community to address crime trends and meet expectations of residents.

The report notes that the mental and physical health of all LPS staff has to be prioritized as the foundation for a strong and healthy team that’s capable of achieving the organization’s long-term goals and outcomes.

“LPS employees continue to demonstrate their commitment and resilience, but as human beings internal and external stressors over the past few years, including policing during a pandemic, challenges within the organizational culture and significant staffing shortages, have resulted in fatigue.

“LPS must ensure the appropriate supports are co-ordinated and in place for all employees to help them thrive and grow in their careers. Further enhancement of mental and physical well-being support programs, better preparation for new cadets and existing members and greater opportunities for career and leadership development will help increase employee retention and recruitment,” notes the report.

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No confidence with this police force after watching the criminals take over our streets, burn down multiple vacant homes,garages, sheds and safe to say the Bow ON Tong and Lethbridge Hotel.
We want action, not words. You received a increased police budget and what did you do . . . you used it for more police officers for schools, ignoring the issues downtown!
Your actions state if all! You have given up Galt Gardens, the Public Library, the Park N Ride terminal . . . all of downtown to the criminals who hang out all night committing crimes!
We want our downtown and our parks back! We want our city back! The leadership has shown us that you are not focused on these issues, by putting the extra money into school policing!