Community consultation is a key component in police budget and business planning, says Lethbridge Police Chief Rob Davis.
So, the LPS and the Lethbridge College Citizen Society Research Lab (CSRL) have started conducting the most comprehensive community engagement process in the service’s history. Stakeholder and resident surveys are underway and are set to reach between 1,200 to 1,500 people in the coming week, said Davis, Insp. Tom Ascroft and Faron Ellis of the CSRL, speaking Thursday morning at LPS headquarters.
Davis said as the city continues to expand and change, it is imperative LPS understands the needs and expectations of the people they serve.
“It’s building upon our commitment to data-driven policing,” Davis said of the surveys.
“There are several processes running congruent to each other right now. We have a responsibility as a police service, we’re handling public funds, to ensure public safety. So we have a responsibility to make sure we cast a wide net to get that feedback.”
Ellis said the police have been highly involved in citizen feedback for the past 10 years
“LPS has been one of the most engaged organizations in the city,” he said.
More than 1,000 stakeholders have been invited to complete a questionnaire and share their opinions on six main topics: community safety; police performance; police management of financial resources; strategic initiatives and community priorities.
Responders take plunge
Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services held ice rescue training exercises at Henderson Lake Park last Wednesday.
The annual ice rescue is intended to make sure emergency responders are up to date on their ice and submersion rescue training.
“We try to simulate conditions as close as we can to real-time,” said Cpt. Stan Colenutt.
Using Mustang survival suits, the responders are able to stay warm in the water for up to six hours at a time — and eight hours, if necessary.
“We’re going to simulate different phases of rescue, different types of rescue and different skills,” he said.
“We are a capable and well-equipped water rescue team.”
Firefighters also worked on self-rescue techniques. In some occasions, it may be safer for rescuers to coach someone who has gone through the ice to get themselves out.
“If they can get themselves out, we will tell them what to do,” Colenutt said. “And we practise those very things we are asking them to do so they can understand what we’re asking them to do.”
Robber gets seven years
Like the movie of the same name, a series of unfortunate events is being blamed on a southern Alberta man’s run-ins with the law.
It started when Derek Ross Blackmer was a teenager and involved in a serious car accident 13 years ago. The chronic pain he endured led to a drug addiction, which led to marijuana use, which led to harder drugs, which led to a string of robberies last year to support his drug habit, which led to prison.
Blackmer, 31, pleaded guilty Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court to 10 counts of robbery, for which he was sentenced to seven years in a federal penitentiary. It’s not the first time he’s been sent to prison for robbery, court was told. While he received an 18-month conditional sentence in 2008, he was sent to prison in 2012 for three more robberies.
“Mr. Blackmer is a mature offender in my view,” said Judge Sylvia Oishi moments before sending Blackmer to prison.
But she agreed with the Crown that Blackmer deserves credit for pleading guilty and co-operating with police after they identified him last August as the robber.
Crown prosecutor Vaughan Hartigan said that even though he had a strong case against Blackmer on some of the robberies, police may not have been able to tie him to all the robberies without his co-operation. Blackmer not only admitted his involvement, but re-enacted the robberies for police.
Bison being restored
For thousands of years, herds of buffalo were the key to life on the western plains.
And they were not just a source of nourishment, a Lethbridge audience was reminded. Before their wholesale slaughter, the buffalo were also integral to aboriginal culture and each band’s way of life.
But now they’re returning, the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs was told Thursday. Honoured educator and speaker Leroy Little Bear described how First Nations elders on both sides of the American border created the Northern Tribes Buffalo Treaty as a way to bring the iconic animals back to reserves and range lands.
“The buffalo were a keynote species,” he said.
“They were very much a part of the environment,” around which the Plains peoples fashioned their lives. They became “brothers” to those who had to harvest some of the animals for winter survival.
Buffalo remain central to Blackfoot culture, Little Bear said, as reflected in stories, songs and ceremonies. But fewer people in the younger generations understood those teachings, he explained.
LC recognizes donors
For some students, qualifying for financial assistance is the key to completing their studies and starting their career.
For post-secondary graduates who’ve enjoyed success, giving back to their college or university is one way of ensuring others will succeed as well.
This week at Lethbridge College, financial donors were honoured during a “Take a Bow” recognition event. Over the past year, officials announced, a total of $1,084,505 was available to students there, as a result of southern Albertans’ generosity.
“That number would absolutely not be possible without the generous philanthropic spirit that we see in action every day here in southern Alberta,” said college president Paula Burns in a release.
Registration opens for ag program
Registration has opened for the first students ready for the new Agricultural Enterprise Management program at Lethbridge College.
When it begins in September, the course will cover economic, management and production subjects vital to strong foundation in the business side of agriculture. It was created as part of the new Southern Alberta Agriculture and Agribusiness Program, backed by a $5-million donation to the college and the University of Lethbridge in 2014 by local producer Cor Van Raay.
“This new programming does more than just fill a gap identified by the agri-food industry in southern Alberta,” says David Hill, director of development for the programming between the college and the university.
“By focusing on the business and management side of a rapidly changing global agri-food industry, students in the program will be prepared to be business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.
“The programming will ensure that students in southern Alberta have the globally relevant skill sets required to significantly increase the value to the primary production economy through advanced approaches to agri-business, agri-tech, agri-finance and agri-trade,” Hill predicts.
The two-year program was approved by Alberta Advanced Education last fall.
Found money returned to store
A large amount of found foreign currency is being returned to the store where it was discovered after the owner failed to claim it.
During their regular meeting on Monday, city council passed a motion to return 15,200 Ghanaian Cedi (about $3,500 Cdn.) to Marlene Braak, manager of the Mission Thrift Store where the money was found last year.
On April 16, an assistant at the store found a green wallet on the floor containing the money.
“We think it was dropped somewhere,” said Braak. “It was picked up by one of my assistants. But we don’t know whether it fell out of their pocket, or if it was in an article of clothing.”
Lethbridge Police Service made several attempts to locate the owner of the money but was unsuccessful.