It was a pleasure of mine to host a Community Safety Forum at Maples Community Centre earlier this month on Oct. 15.
Together with the Winnipeg Police Service, we engaged with approximately 150 residents from the community. Presentations were made on social media safety as well as new projects like Make the Right Call and the SMART Policing Initiative (SPI).
A highlight of the evening was Police Chief Devon Clunis returning to the Maples, where he grew up. He shared an inspiring story of how he decided to become a police officer and what his vision is for Winnipeg as a whole. Community members who voiced comments and questions expressed their gratitude for his presence.
A question to Chief Clunis was asked by a student from Maples Collegiate. What can students do to help support what the police do?
Chief Clunis had previously stated he could almost see the entire world when he looked out into the audience, while speaking about the diversity of the Maples community. Responding to the young man, Chief Clunis said it is important to be welcoming to everyone and to stay engaged with the community. He urged that crimes such as graffiti need to be reported, and stressed not to physically get involved but to report the crime.
Detective Sergeant Darren Oleksiuk presented "Being Smart in a Smartphone World." He connected with youth and opened the eyes of others in attendance about the ever-evolving dynamics of social media. Social media is a prominent part of our society and he advocated that parents need to have age-appropriate online safety talks with their children.
Inspector Cam Baldwin illustrated a presentation on Make the Right Call and SPI. Make the Right Call highlights the various telephone numbers citizens can call when reporting crimes or needing to speak with a police officer. Large posters have been created and will be displayed at community centres and schools throughout Winnipeg.
SPI works to combat crime at the root causes. It is about building relationships with people and helping community resources at a base level before crime escalates.
I was very pleased to see so many youth in attendance at the forum. I encourage families to be inspired to join with other families and for everyone to take an active role in their community. Together, we can continue to build a culture of safety in our neighbourhoods.