Community safety, crime reduction LPS priorities for 2022

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – Lethbridge Herald on December 30, 2021.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh says the past year has provided the Lethbridge Police Service with an opportunity for reflection and a chance to chart a course to a better future.

LETHBRIDGE HERALD[email protected]

For the Lethbridge Police Service, 2021 has been a year of challenges that have turned into opportunities for growth as a service.
“I really believe this year has given this department many opportunities to really think about what’s going on and set the stage for a much better future,” said Shahin Mehdizadeh, Chief of the Lethbridge Police Department. .
Mehdizadeh said this is the year that for the first time they implemented a Crime Reduction Strategy, a Significant Crime Reduction Strategy, using comstat and base-based policing services. of data to do their job.
“We don’t just use resources for the sake of using them, we’re actually more focused on tackling crime and how we handle certain things,” Mehdizadeh said.
Mehdizadeh said community engagement was a difficult task for them this year due to COVID, but they still managed to reach out to many community partners and key stakeholders, to ensure they continue to have the connection as COVID rules relax in the future.
“One of the biggest challenges I had was that I couldn’t actually meet as many citizens in a public forum as I wanted because of COVID,” Mehdizadeh said.
But he said as those rules softened, he was eager to do a lot of community town halls, contact citizens face to face, listen to them and also provide them with information on what is doing. the police department.
“This is the year we really thought about because of the budget cut, how we can make ourselves more efficient in delivering services,” Mehdizadeh said.
He said they looked at where they could cut fat as much as they could, although there isn’t a lot of fat to cut as the budget covers all salaries and benefits.
“Where we could actually reduce fat, we did and looked at other opportunities in the future to save money and resources,” Mehdizadeh said.
Another area that was important for LPS in 2021 was to take a critical look at their School Resource Officer program and develop a new program, the Youth Engagement Unit. This program provides more and better services to all young people, not just young people who go to school in the community.
“Some adjustments were necessary to ensure that this program is accessible to all young people in the community, that not all young people go to school, and we have to be very realistic in this regard,” Mehdizadeh said.
He said both school divisions were aware of and in their discussions, and that this program is supported by both school divisions, which is essential as they are their primary client group that they must serve.
“They also understood the importance of making sure that we have a presence not only during the months of the school year, but twelve months of the year, so this program, the same as our anti-drug unit. , the same as our flight unit, will operate 12 months of the year on youth issues to support youth, ”Mehdizadeh said.
He said they sometimes have to look at enforcement actions and charges, but these will always be the last resort when dealing with young people.
“We are trying to work with different organizations and partnerships to help our young people, or take them out of their life of crime and people who are about to enter a life of crime, in the hope of guiding them on a path different, ”Mehdizadeh said.
He added that this was also the year they got really committed to the city’s community wellness and safety strategy.
“We have executives in different sub-groups and the main group that I represent the department, to see how we can really envision a holistic approach to tackling crime by helping people who need help and trying to make this city a safer place, ”says Mehdizadeh.
Earlier this year, the police department recruited two experienced community peace officers, and Mehdizadeh said they had the experience to bring with them, which makes it possible to see things from a different perspective.
He added that financially, it is more profitable for the ministry, since they do not therefore have to give experienced recruits to the training that new people should take.
“In all aspects, we definitely invite experienced people to join any program,” Mehdizadeh said.
Regarding the homeless situation in Lethbridge, Mehdizadeh said this is something that cannot be resolved overnight, but that they will continue to monitor.
“With the ongoing community wellness and safety initiatives you may not see the issue resolved immediately or any changes, but I have no doubts that if these programs continue and the job is done, the “investment will be made in the community by many levels of government,” Mehdizadeh said.
Mehdizadeh also wished to recognize the work that The Watch is doing in 2021. He said that many people have come forward to praise the program and that he is impressed with the number of young people involved in the program.
“A lot of young people actually come to volunteer, to get a really good perspective on what’s really going on in our city, and I find that they serve the community very well,” said Mehdizadeh.
As for what is in store for 2022, Mehdizadeh said he has three main priorities and the biggest one is to make this community safer and reduce the crime rate.
“In 2020 we saw a reduction compared to 2019 and in 2021 we saw a significant reduction compared to 2020 and I want this trend to continue,” Mehdizadeh said.
Another priority for Mehdizadeh is to engage more with the community.
“I have to do it, but again after also being respectful and complying with their health regulations and COVID rules, et cetera,” Mehdizadeh said.
He added that his third priority is the well-being of the organization and its employees, as a healthy team can better serve the community.
“I have to make sure that our team is as healthy as possible, so that we can serve the community,” Mehdizadeh said.

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