April 23rd, 2024

Task force receives report on downtown police resources

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 30, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Downtown Lawlessness Task Force on Thursday received a report from deputy chief of police Gerald Grobmeier on police services resources.

The task force, a sub-committee of the Safety and Social Standing Policy Committee of city council, consists of members mayor Blaine Hyggen, acting mayor John Middleton-Hope, Sarah Amies, Kendal Hachkowski, chair Hunter Heggie, Sheri Kain and Matthew McHugh.

The report states that the Downtown Policing Unit of the LPS consists of one sergeant and eight constables operating in four teams. The unit patrols on foot, bicycles whenever the weather permits and in dedicated police vans.

The downtown is included in the 10-beat zoning structure of the LPS which will also have other members of field operations assigned. And in addition to the DPU and 10 beat patrol officers, other members can be dispatched to assist if required.

Primary duties of the DPU are:

•Visibility, engagement, problem solving, pro-active response and availability for calls for service;

• Interaction with citizens, business owners and vulnerable populations;

• Connection and dialogue with security guards deployed in the downtown;

• Assignment of Downtown community problems for ownership, connection and follow up and;

• Creation and implementation of projects to focus on recognized issues.

The task force was told by Inspector Jason Doberstein that community peace officers also have roles, one being to provide a support role and assist with lower level calls for service.

There are also plainclothes units which have a lot to do with what goes on downtown in terms of the LPS Property Crimes Unit and the Crime Suppression Team, the task force heard.

“Those officers work really throughout the community but obviously there are many challenges in the downtown core,” Dobirstein added.

Every month or couple months police will be doing a project focused downtown with uniformed officers matched with the CST and plain clothes officers doing overt and covert work together, he said.

The LPS does have time when it will target more resources in a particular area, with downtown seeing some of that, the task force heard.

“So we’re drawing resources from more than just our uniformed division,” the inspector added.

The mission of the Crime Suppression Team, says the report to to the task force “is to reduce violence and disorder, improve safety and enhance the quality of life for citizens of Lethbridge.” It consists of one sergeant and five constables who are part of the LPS Criminal Investigation section. It has the ability to operate in covert and overt capacities.

Community Peace Officers, says the report consists of one sergeant and 11 Level 1 Community Peace Officers that consist of two patrol systems.

CPOs are dedicated to the downtown area and “monitor and maintain public safety within their authorized scope of authority by patrol vehicle, and on foot, through responding to calls for service, actively deterring crime by being present in the community and building relationships with citizens and partnerships with stakeholders,” says the report.

They are appointed under the Peace Officer Act of Alberta. CPOs with the LPS are “appointed for the purpose of preserving and

maintaining the public peace with authority to execute warrants, enforce provincial statutes, municipal bylaws, two Criminal Code offences and also operate the Judicial Interim Release office in the Short-Term Holding Facility of the Lethbridge Police Service.”

The Watch is a volunteer-based initiative of the LPC which has its objective “f enhancing the community as a safe and friendly place for everyone to live, work, shop

and enjoy, through social outreach, connection and intervention. Members of the Watch manage a range of issues and events that historically involve police intervention, but in reality, are not part of core police functions and most do not require police involvement,” says the report.

“The Watch acts as the eyes and ears of social and community services agencies and our emergency service providers. They also connect people with Government of Alberta and local private support agencies and organizations. Watch teams connect people with detoxification and treatment services or housing and shelter, they arrange transportation, help people access services, assist businesses in managing negative behaviours in their area and a whole host of other activities to serve and help everyone. The Watch provides a highly visible deterrence to negative behaviours and crime, and a willingness and capacity to intervene in support of those who may be victimized in some way by crime. The Watch also acts in time of medical emergency providing lifesaving first aid and Naloxone when needed.”

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The information gathered at these task force meetings are important and crucial in finding ways and placing focus on areas that need resources to resolve issues. They can put forth recommendations so Council/adminstration can move on these recommendations if agreed upon.
Anyone who has watched committee after committee form and the issues continue to grow downtown can understand how important it is.
It has some true leadership as members, who are focused on the issues. They are giving up their time and many have been to the information sessions by LPS, and other community information sessions, wanting to help in any way they can to resolve the issues downtown, which will end the issues around the city, since downtown is the epi-center that impacts the rest. Some members and talked over a year prior to the formation of this task force, and I overheard them say to those who held the information sessions, ‘how can we help’.
They are motivate and dedicated and want to the best for this city and downtownd and have earned my respect and support!
Many how are trying to tear down this community and change its membership and how it operates have never being to any of the task force meetings.
This task force is dedicated, and if any change was made, the members who sit on it should remain the same and it should report directly to Council and be a sub committee of the Governance SPC.
The attacks, threats and ignorance of small number who have attacked some of the members of this community have been brutal, yet they continue to work hard to serve.
The majority of the people want this task force and look forward to the results it will bring. And, as stated in meetings, this task force is not costing the city, it has no operating budget or expenses!
Again, I would suggest that you show your support by sending a brief email to Council, a short respectful email stating you support this task force, because right now a small group who oppose this task force are the loudest and impeding some of the progress of this task force.
There is true leadership being displayed on this task force and when you have true leaders, you get great results. They understand they have a tough job and are willing to perform what is needed to be successful!

pursuit diver

And in addition to the DPU and 10 beat patrol officers,
Lets just clarify this because that doesn’t mean there are 10 beat partrol officers on duty at the same time. Those members will be splitting shifts and the shift rotations. Out of the 10, that could put about 2-3 on shift at one time for the DTU and downtown includes the Shelter. Add to that someone off for stress or sick leave and if short staffed, those number could vary.

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