An important tradition for police and community members, this year’s Police Week was launched on May 16.
The May 15-21 observance celebrates the partnership between the police and the community.
This year’s theme is ‘Your Police Services: Helping Build Safer Communities’.
Deputy Chief Kim Yeandle said the theme recognizes the hard work members put in daily to keep communities safe.
“But most importantly, we can’t and don’t do this alone,” she pointed out. “Public safety is a collaborative effort involving police services, other first responders, community members, businesses and social and community organizations.”
Yeandle noted that the Service collaborates with Community Consultative Committees, Community Police Liaison Committees and other community members and organizations to understand and respond to the needs of citizens.
“To that end, we are continuing to enhance our Neighbourhood Community Officer Program to provide ‘community centric’ service delivery,” she said. “At its core, building safer communities is about collaboration, consultation and partnerships. It is about working together to understand each other. It is about all of us leading with care and compassion every day.
“Our police officers and civilian members are committed to earning the public’s trust and confidence and I am very proud of all the work they do to keep the citizens of Toronto safe. And we know that we can never relent in this effort. We are working with our communities in ways we never considered before and we are seeing and experiencing great results. Building safer communities is a commitment with no end, one with continuous community collaboration, consultation and partnership.”
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Jim Hart said this year’s theme emphasizes the importance of ongoing collaboration between police and community partners to support a holistic approach to service delivery and response efforts.
“Without a doubt, our police services view sustained and enduring collaboration as the key to creating and strengthening meaningful community safety,” he said. “Indeed, the Toronto Police Service demonstrates its commitment to this vital principle everyday as it partners with our city’s communities in the development of collaborative engagement initiatives, innovative crime prevention projects and in the Service’s general enforcement efforts.
“It is critical that both the police and community acknowledge the vital principle that policing today must be comprehensive and multi-dimensional and must include community mobilization and public engagement as core components to building safe and healthy communities.”
Hart highlighted the FOCUS program and the enhanced Neighbourhood Community Officer Program as key pieces of the Service’s outreach efforts to close the divide between police and the community.
“Another powerful example is the Mobile Crisis Intervention Team initiative where officers are paired with psychiatric nurses to attend calls involving people who appear to be experiencing mental health and/or addiction issues,” he added. “The Board very much supports the Service in its progressive and comprehensive efforts to deal with individuals dealing with mental health and addiction issues in the most effective and compassionate way possible, utilizing the excellent community resources available wherever possible. Indeed the Service’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategy is rooted in the concepts of de-escalation and communication, focused on connecting people with the appropriate community services available.”
Hart said the Board is extremely proud of the incredible work of the Service in collaborating with the city’s communities to deliver effective, compassionate, intelligence-led and equitable policing services to the people of Toronto.
“We see daily the dedication of our Service members when it comes to developing innovative and comprehensive initiatives that are both strategic and dynamic,” he added. “On behalf of the Board, I want to sincerely thank all members of the Toronto Police Service for their continued dedication, hard work, compassion and commitment to keeping our neighbourhoods safe, vibrant and healthy.”
Mark Tenaglia, the 31 Division (CPLC) Co-Chair, was the keynote speaker at the event at Driftwood Community Centre. He has lived in the community his entire life.
About seven years ago, he and wife summoned Toronto Police in the wake of safety concerns in their community.
“Within 20 minutes, four Community Response Unit members on bicycles were at our front door,” he recalled. “They were so willing to help. That was the beginning of a deep and meaningful relationship with police. Out of that encounter emerged the Neighbourhood Watch group in the Downsview-Roding community. We later created a Community Facebook page, held a number of community meetings and helped officers engage, collaborate and network with key people in the community. With all the engagement we have done over the years, we have seen the community embrace our police officers and develop trusting relationships.”