Calgary Police Department
What is happening?
Our city is tying up front-line trained officers in the Community Services Unit. In these changing times and with our city expanding, more cost-effective ways of policing are now required. Policing initiatives need to be developed to best meet our citizen’s needs.
Community Policing is and has been at the forefront of my concerns for many years. I fully understand that a lot of hard work and man-hours have gone into the development of the initiatives attempting to reduce crime and that the Community Service Unit developed an education and support program. Our Community Policing Program needs to be streamlined to become a more cost-effective force. At present we have five groups: the Diversity Resource Team; Crime Prevention Team; Vulnerable Person Team; Victim Assistance Support Team; and, the Volunteer Resource, Team.
Currently, we do not practice ‘Major Collective Emergency Training Exercises’ in our city which involves the coordination of police, fire and EMS. These departments work together and need to train together. Training in diverse environments and in a number of challenging situations would reduce reaction times and will save lives. And, to my knowledge, the City has failed for many years by not addressing the need to provide adequate collective emergency training budgets.
In my opinion, four out of the five units should amalgamate for a new police community initiative. The new task force should then be developed by our Chief, and his Planning and Training Team, using the template provided to the council in June 2020.
The Vulnerable Person Team should stay intact and be a deployable asset to our Police department and should also be developed further.
Each year our city should run at least one major collective emergency training exercise scenario involving Police, Fire, EMS; and possibly the military.
What should be happening?
How are we going to make that happen?
After many months of research, I submitted a document to City Council in June 2020 titled the “Police Community Support Officer (PCSO)” program. I offered that document as a template to develop a new community policing initiative. I received no reply from the Council or any comments for that matter.
This would be a program based on a community police initiative that has operated successfully in the UK and other European countries for over three decades. This program focuses on ‘boots on the ground’ in our communities and neighborhoods, with an emphasis on community policing whilst also continuing tasks previously developed by the established Community Service Unit.
This initiative would run a two-year pilot program primarily funded by both provincial and federal governments. Once this pilot program is proven successful it could then be adopted by our provincial government for all cities throughout Alberta in order to improve community policing province-wide. During the two-year period, the plan includes recruiting 40 new PCSOs. They would be expected to undertake a multitude of community policing tasks assigned to them on a daily basis by their chief and sergeant. They’d also adopt assignments that were being performed by the Diversity Resource Team, Crime Prevention Team, and Victim Assistance Support Team. During the 2-year pilot program, all of the community service units would stay in place and would act as training and development elements for the new PCSO pilot initiative. Depending upon the success of the PCSO program after the two-year period is completed, and upon the delivery of a final report from our Chief an assessment and discussion would then take place in Council.
I will encourage our police department and the New Council to seek funding for this PCSO program initiative from both provincial and federal governing bodies. This program must first be developed by our Police Chief. Once developed it would go before the Council for approval and then be submitted to the province and federal governments for funding.
As a result of implementing this PCSO initiative, many trained front-line officers could then be reassigned to reinforce the multitude of essential departments actively targeting major hardened criminal activities in our cities in areas such as; drug enforcement and human trafficking activities. We need as a city and our Police Department, the ability to have a Police Services presence in all our communities on a daily basis. The CPSO program is also the missing link in establishing a connection between front-line officers and our Police and Crisis Teams (PACT). Having PCSOs on patrol in our various communities, and because of their liaison role of community connection, citizens will regain peace of mind and this will improve the overall confidence in Calgary’s Community Policing Strategies
Each year the administration carries out a City-wide Satisfaction Survey on all services provided to citizens. This survey costs the city $120,000 every year it’s conducted. I am not a big fan of this data collection document for the following reasons. It is outdated by the time it’s presented to the council. I’ve sat through these sessions in council listening to the administration regurgitate data and information. Each time, I wanted to ask the council two questions. These questions!
First. How many Calgarians took part in the survey? bold emphasis added There are about 1.3 to 1.6 million citizens in our city. It is my opinion, that for a survey to come close to being of any use, or even credible, at least 10% of the population needs to have taken part. That would require 160,000 citizens to be involved.
Second. Is the survey provided in a multilingual text? bold emphasis added Approximately one third of Calgary’s population has English as a second language; if it has not been provided in multiple languages then, the survey is again pointless.
During my attendance at many council meetings over the years, I have never heard anyone one on council ask these two questions. Nor has their relevance been addressed by any administration looking for these answers.
It would be my intention to propose to the new council that this survey be suspended and that funding for this ineffective process be transferred to the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA). This would give the committee the opportunity to implement an Annual Major Disaster Collective Training Event that would enable training and testing of all of our emergency services. After such an exercise, a post-exercise report measuring the results would be compiled and presented to the council. This is, in my opinion, a more productive use of our tax dollars.
Funding for a Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Training exercise