Your friendly, neighbourhood police officer is about to become more visible. Saanich plans to bring back a program that tasks officers with visiting community events, tournaments and large gatherings of people to connect with residents on a more personal level.
“With the old police post program, which goes back about 14 years, we’d tell people where an officer was going to be and at what time,” Sgt. Dean Jantzen said. “It was time to freshen up the program to afford our officers more flexibility. We will take on the politicians’ mantra of never passing by a large group of people without stopping to say hello.”
Uniformed officers are usually at large events in the municipality, anyway, Jantzen said, conducting such duties as foot patrol or traffic control. The rebranded Community Connections program is an extra effort to reach out.
“These will be frontline officers not impeded by logistical requirements at these events, free to enjoy ice cream and talk with people, share stories and break bread, wander around and interact with our constituents,” Jantzen said.
The goal is to create personal connections between residents and officers, which isn’t possible when conversations are problem-based and work-related.
“The connection between our department and this community is deep and well-entrenched, and we want to just grow that and expand upon what’s already there,” Jantzen said.
The hope is that talking with an officer in a less formal setting will stimulate deeper connections, Jantzen said.
“That means open dialogue and freer information sharing – that’s an outcome we hope to achieve.”