Pubdate: Wed, 12 Aug 2009
Source: Guardian, The (CN PI)
Copyright: 2009 The Guardian, Charlottetown Guardian Group Incorporated


Losing Community Policing Officer Contrary to Message of Police Chiefs

Some delegates attending the 104th annual meeting of the Canadian
Association of Chiefs of Police in Charlottetown this week must be
scratching their heads as they grapple with the essential role of
community policing in fighting crime. The theme of the conference is
'Creating Safe and Healthy Communities through Social Development,'
meaning that today's policing executives need to focus on finding new
ways of integrating police services with the communities they serve.
Key sessions of the conference are focusing on proven community safety

That being said, the host community has just seen its community
policing officer position eliminated. The Charlottetown Police
Services officer, who once did the job by himself, will be back on a
regular beat once the conference ends, as he was seconded for the past
several months helping to organize this national event. Delegates at
the conference must be wondering if Charlottetown is off in some
netherworld when they are told about the recent changes and
reorganization with our local police service.

At a press conference in Charlottetown last Friday, police chiefs with
law enforcement agencies from the Criminal Intelligence Service of
Canada took the opportunity to release the 2009 Report on Organized
Crime in Canada. We heard that the illegal drug trade is the most
pressing crime threat facing Islanders and that Prince Edward Island
is not immune to organized crime. The place to start the war on drugs
is in schools, where the CPS community policing officer did most of
his work.

The recommendation to eliminate that position was one of the more
puzzling elements in the report earlier this year on the problems
facing the Charlottetown police force. The report said all officers
must be involved in community policing and that the entire force must
be viewed as community policing officers. One officer cannot do the
job alone and the authors of the report felt that designating one
person would impede the chances of others on the CPS taking community
policy seriously. Still, a community policing officer could spearhead
projects and ensure other officers get involved as well. There must be
a lot of philosophical debates on this issue going on in the halls and
corridors of the Charlottetown Civic Centre during breaks in plenary
sessions and professional development sessions this week.

Last Friday's press conference noted that drugs continue to be the
primary concern for law enforcement agencies in P.E.I. and the variety
of drugs now available in the market have made the illicit drug trade
the most pressing organized crime threat identified in the province at
this time. The same is true for most jurisdictions in Canada as this
Gentle Island is not immune from the problems that big cities face.
Fighting crime is also costly. In 2009, P.E.I. launched its first
Criminal Intelligence Service Bureau at a cost of $320,000 annually.
The bureau focuses on criminal intelligence activities in the province
and provides guidance in the collection, analysis and production of

While law enforcement agencies are engaged in combating organized
crime, the public also has an important role to play. Information
provided by the public is critical in helping law enforcement agencies
keep our communities safe. Crime prevention is really everyone's
responsibility and can't be dumped on the shoulders of a community
policing officer or his or her co-workers. If drugs are an increasing
problem, or crime is rising, we all have to share the blame, because a
safe, crime-free community and province is something we all must take
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