Regina Police unveil new community engagement initiative
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Regina Police unveil new community engagement initiative

The city’s police chief says sending officers to residents is a response to calls for more police on the streets in some neighborhoods.

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This week, Regina has experienced high temperatures and a high-ranking police officer walking the city’s sweltering streets.

In literal terms, Chief Farooq Hassan Sheikh did not arrive in Regina as early as he would have liked because he was nursing an injured leg early in his term.

But the sheikh rectified that on Wednesday by setting foot in the city centre and cathedral districts, which were the first to be visited under a new strategy he hopes will foster engagement and trust.

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It’s called: ““All in the Progressive Policing Initiative: Engagement and Law Enforcement.”

“We are listening to what the public has to say,” Sheikh said at a launch event at the Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre on Wednesday afternoon.

He told reporters that a recent public survey indicated some communities wanted to see more police on the streets and have the opportunity to engage with them.

So that’s what he did with other officers in the hours before the official launch.

Sheikh said police officers had already been contacted and were able to share crime prevention tips with residents. He added that it was also an opportunity for police to explore “better ways of doing things,” noting that he hoped more neighbourhood watch programmes could be implemented in the future.

Such programs, he added, would allow “key and influential members of the community” to become “our eyes and ears.” Police could also share information with these people, who would then disseminate it to members of their respective communities.

The new initiative and its engagement process aim to foster interaction and collaboration, Sheikh said.

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“We have an opportunity to listen to them and hopefully allay their concerns.”

Through dialogue with residents, he said, police may also become aware of some concerns they were not aware of before.

The chief said he wants people to have confidence in police to report crimes.

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Asked about the resources deployed for this initiative, he replied that there could be “up to a hundred officers on patrol”, without specifying where they would be deployed. He specified that officers from different units, including plainclothes police officers, would participate in the first phase of the initiative, which was to continue throughout the afternoon and evening of Wednesday.

Sheikh said he recently met with leaders in the cathedral and city centre and heard their concerns about crime levels and trust in the police. Those neighbourhoods were the first to be selected for the initiative, but others will follow.

No specific timetable was given for when other neighborhoods would see increased police presence.

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“The data shows that public perception in some areas is a little low,” he said, noting that the RPS wants to understand why and do something about it.

“We will also take enforcement measures.”

This could include anything from traffic enforcement to executing outstanding arrest warrants for people wanted for offences, he said.

Sheikh noted that after the initial release, RPS members will review the information gathered, evaluate it and revise their approach to the initiative.

Sheikh added that he also plans to reach out to leaders in different neighborhoods to organize “community events.” These gatherings can provide additional space for residents to share their specific concerns with police and for officers to share relevant information with communities.

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