July 24th, 2024

New class of recruits help fill critical need for LPS

By Lethbridge Herald on July 5, 2024.

Newly sworn constables Eva Klassen, Jarrod Kyca and Laine Wilson lead their graduating class as they demonstrate their drilling abilities to onlookers at the end of their graduation ceremony on Friday in the Val Matteotti Gymnasium at Lethbridge Polytechnic. Herald photo by Justin Sibbet

Justin Sibbet – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

New officers have earned their badges following a rigorous 23-week training program at Lethbridge College, now known as Lethbridge Polytechnic.

With eight officers being sworn into the Lethbridge Police Service and two going east to the Manitoba First Nations Police Service, the thin blue line has gotten thicker.

The graduation ceremony took place in the Val Matteotti Gymnasium on Friday afternoon. Family, friends and faculty joined in celebrating the 10 new recruits on their accomplishments over the past few months.

LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh says this new class of recruits will help bolster the ranks, which have already seen significant growth in recent months.

“We expect the same thing (from this class) that we expect from any other officer,” said Mehdizadeh. “They’re going to get some more training, then they’re going to be hitting the streets.”

He says the training will take some time, but once they are ready, they will help fill current vacancies across the service.

“This injection of eight new people on our team is actually critical. It’s much needed right now.”

The recruiting efforts are not done there, with Mehdizadeh indicating there are 13 new recruits beginning their program in just over a week, which he says is a good sign of things to come.

“We are doing really well with our recruiting and getting great people joining our team.”

Of the current crop of recruits, one stood out above all others. Constable Eva Klassen was awarded the joint-top academic award, top cadet award and top physical training award. The native of Mexico moved to Taber with her family, including 12 siblings, when she was a child. Despite this, she says her roots in the Lethbridge community are deep as she went to school here, always wanting to work the front line.

“I just love Lethbridge,” said Klassen. “Lethbridge is my home.”

She says the opportunity to serve the community she loves was a significant driver in her decision to wear the badge.

“I’m excited to be able to make a difference in people’s lives. That’s the main reason.”

Even though Klassen had just become a sworn officer, she had wisdom to share for her fellow officers following the ceremony.

“The public puts so much trust into us and I think our goal as a cadet class is to do that justice and to do the community proud,” Klassen told reporters. “To continue to earn that trust every day that we come to work.”

Furthermore, she says the idea of joining a police force that is trending in the right direction, in terms of recruiting efforts, is fantastic.

“It’s exciting knowing there’s going to be so many new people joining policing,” said Klassen. “We’re going to have a lot of people to learn from and then it’s just going to really add a lot of new ideas.”

Mehdizadeh says Klassen is deserving of the awards and the Lethbridge Police Service is fortunate to have her.

“Eva is an amazing young lady and we’re so glad that she took an interest in us enough to join us,” said Mehdizadeh. 

While recognition comes to Klassen for her hard work during the program, Mehdizadeh says every new constable is worthy of praise for making it to this point.

“Regardless of what achievements they get, to me, all of them are superheroes. All of them have sworn to protect the public.”

As for her future, Klassen says she is eager to learn more about policing, experiencing everything the career has to offer. However, she says her immediate hopes are to continue to grow as a person.

“Right now, my biggest goal is to just be the best person, best officer I can be in patrols.”

Klassen was the only female graduate in this cadet class and she had some advice for young women or girls who may be considering policing as a career.

“I know that it can be scary to put yourself out there, but you have strength in you that you maybe don’t even know about,” said Klassen. “Really, just take that chance. Apply if you’re interested in being a police officer, you truly will not regret it.”

As for what it feels like to finally hold the title of constable, Klassen couldn’t help but smile.

“It feels amazing. I’ve worked very hard to be here and I’m very excited to continue learning throughout my life.”

The eight new constables who have joined the LPS include Taylor Althouse, Garrett Chiddle, Denver Gould, Eva Klassen, Harley Sims, Jaspreet Singh, Steele Stef and Laine Wilson. The two recruits joining the Manitoba First Nations Police Service are Kyle Bauman and Jarrod Kyca.

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Nice to see! They have comoleted their basic training, but there is still a long period of training to be completed before we see these dedicated recruits released on their own. Although training/refreshing is ongoing throughout a career like this, it is important for a changing society and its issues.
I read a recent post from an article – ‘Downtown residents frustrated with crime and lack of progress’bladeofgrass
“….I’m hearing that you believe the solution is more policing, but when even the Chief of Police saying at a townhall meeting that policing is not the solution I’m not quite understanding what your solution is?….”
I was at the meetings, and I agree, I heard him make a similar statement, the northside meeting if I remember correctly.
I cannot answer for him, but I think he meant policing alone is not the solution, but perhaps we need him to clarify this.
He continues to state that the ranks must be brought up at least to the national per capita standards. I have been alble to have many conversations with the Chief and cannot speak for him, but know they have been had a major recruiting campaign ongoing, so why if he didn’t believe it is part of the solution would he request more members?
I applaud these new recruits and appreciate their dedication to come to our city and do what is a very, very tough job. Many could not survive 2 years working this type of job. Thank you!
More police alone will not solve the issues. Businesses and residents must engage their leaders, Council and police . . . take some time to make your voices heard by going to committee meetings, the DLR task force meetings and with serious concerns the Police Commission.
You can go on the City website to contact Council members and the Mayor or submit concerns to committees as information through a link also for those committees found on the City website.
This is your city and you have a say! If you want change, you must stand up for that change and be heard. We can bring change, but your voice must be heard to do so! I alone can do very little, but when more get involved you will see change. My voice is not enough!
I love this city and ask nothing for fighting for what is know is possible, which will save lives, save tens of millions of tax dollars, over $11 million of your local property tax dollars collected and when this ended, at least $20 million just on police/fire/EMS costs. You would be surprised if you knew just how many calls to these services there are per day, just to deal with issues from the addiction crisis/related crimes.
Hiring new recruits now just to bring the ranks up to national average is not bringing in a police state. Police alone will not resolve these issues. I have never believed this, but understaffing this vital service during a crisis such as the addition crisis will only burn out members, as we currently are seeing, while eating up the police budget with massive overtime costs.
From the beginning I have pushed for more effective treatment programs for mental health and addiction and drug courts so addicts can make a choice to take treatment and not have a criminal charge impeding their work or travel plans later in life when they continue to recover from the addiction. Police are not the only solution but play a huge role in bringing change. Communicating concerns with other communities is also big and I know there has been a lot of this from our concerned Council.
I am going to enjoy the Latino Festival downtown in Galt Gardens since it has not been there for a few years. I know the issues are still there, but I am not going to let them steal my freedom to enjoy events where I do not have to get in my vehicle and drive to them or take the bus, as I do sometimes.
This is our city, your city . . . let’s take it back by making your voices heard!

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