From YW WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES® to walking around the neighbourhoods where we live and work, YW Calgary and the Calgary Police Service (CPS) have a longstanding relationship. YW works most closely with our Community Resource Officers (CROs) in the communities in which we operate. YW meets on a semi-regular basis with our CROs to discuss issues that the community reports to CPS or to YW as well as work on collaborative projects to better support our communities together.
In Inglewood, Ramsay, Victoria Park, Erlton & Alyth/Bonnybrook area, we work with Constable Ryan Wood. YW recently asked Cst. Wood a few questions on the topics of community policing, his work with YW and our clients and what he sees in the neighbourhoods he supports. Here’s what he shared:
How are you connected to YW Calgary?
The Calgary Police Service (CPS) has had a positive working relationship with YW Calgary for as long as I have worked downtown. From answering calls for service at the old location, to becoming a Community Resource Officer (CRO) and observing my partner’s interactions with YW downtown, to the new building in Inglewood. Which is how I am currently connected to them, in the capacity of liaison for the CPS.
What are you observing in the communities you support?
What I hear from the community, as far as the number one concern, is that of transient and vulnerable people and activities such as homelessness and social disorder.
How do you work with YW and the clients?
As a CRO, I work with the YW management team, meeting on a semi-regular basis, where we try to address the issues that the community reports to us both. As a patrol officer, I would attend calls to service at the YW which takes many forms, but we’re most often called to interview clients who were victims of crime.
How do you work with residents in the communities you support?
I hear from the community in the form of my e-mail which is CRO13@calgarypolice.ca. This avenue can be utilized to advise myself and therefore the CPS of ongoing trends and issues the community is going through. Since being a CRO, I have tried several methods on how best to collaborate with community members; such as a town hall style meeting, community association meetings, ‘It’s a Crime Not to Read’ at Piitoayis School and so on. Of course, COVID-19 has impacted how to meet members of the community in larger groups, which is why I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the YW’s newsletter.
What are some positive and collaborative approaches for working with community residents and YW clients on crime in our community?
Watching out for each other would be number one. Know your neighbours, watch out for each other’s property and safety. Secondly, educate yourself on what is normal and abnormal in your community. Inglewood has been changing rapidly recently and I can only imagine the frustration this causes long-time residents. A transient person walking down the alleyway collecting bottles may not be unusual activity these days and could be different from a suspicious person looking into backyards. Of course, the CPS will always respond to whatever a citizen calls us about, so if you are unsure it is always okay to call.
The reality is the CPS only has so many resources and unless citizens tell us differently, I must assume they want those resources to be responding to or preventing crime. I do my best to patrol the communities I serve as often as I can but admittedly, this is only a drop in the bucket. How the community, the police and YW can help most is knowing when to involve police and when not to. Before calling, ask yourself if your concern is something where a police officer could make a difference, keeping in mind that homelessness and social disorder are not criminal offences, so a police officer may not be the best responder. If your concern is not quite at the level of personal or property crime, agencies such as Bylaw Services or the Alpha House DOAP team may be a better choice. Understanding the limits of enforcement, what the police can and cannot do may assist in some of the frustrations that the community feels.
What are your hopes for the communities you support?
My hope is always for safer communities that see reduced crime and disorder. My hope is for a collaborative partnership with all the different agencies at the table, as well as the community itself, to work together to see this through. In the grand scheme of things, Calgary is a very safe city and it is healthy to remind ourselves of this as we continue to watch out for each other.
YW Calgary looks forward to continuing our longstanding relationship with Calgary Police Service and working together to support some of Calgary’s most vulnerable populations.