Customer service is job No. 1 for south Etobicoke’s new police superintendent.
Supt. Frank Bergen became unit commander of Toronto police’s 22 Division station on Bloor Street West in the new year following former Supt. Jim Ramer’s promotion to staff superintendent in charge of detective command downtown.
Most recently, Bergen had been superintendent of 55 Division in the Beach. Supt. Elizabeth Byrnes is now unit commander of that division.
He now heads a police division that is 67 square kilometres — more than three times the size of his former division in the Beach.
Bergen said he will reinforce at his new division the attitude of positive support of his officers in their deployment, which will translate into customer service and crime prevention.
“Quite often, it’s so easy for us as management to just look at response times and to have arbitrary templates of what we expect police officers to do...I would rather (officers) be comfortable to know they’re not measured on their response times and their (case) clearance (rates). They’re measured on what they’re giving and what value, the customer service,” Bergen said Thursday morning in a sit-down interview in his office.
“I want them to be human. Assisting that victim of crime in that first interaction is so important. If we’re just arbitrary and ‘Just the facts, ma’am’ Dragnet Joe Friday, it’s one-dimensional. Show the compassion. Be empathetic. Make sure you’re listening to what (victims’) needs are and then meet them. It’s about ensuring that every opportunity you have, you add value.”
When he left 55 Division, officers were doing positive deployment, doing things together, talking internally, Bergen reported.
“If primary response, your frontline car, isn’t communicating to your investigating team, isn’t communicating to your crime management team, isn’t communicating to your domestic violence team, et cetera then you’re really just in isolation. That then becomes just an occurrence that sits.
“But if that occurrence was properly dealt with through communication, there are so many parallels and other supports available to them, you really find you can light it all up and get it dealt with and move on and satisfaction goes through the roof.”
Toronto Police Service is “flush” with resources that enable that communication and information-sharing among teams of officers, Bergen said.
“If that’s the opportunity to pass on victim assistance, make sure you can manage their needs, you’re going to have a fulsome investigation. But you’re also going to have satisfaction. You’ll also find that will spread and the community will be more comfortable calling (us).”
Yesterday, Bergen cited the arrest of a suspect within a week of the recent shooting of a man in his 20s outside the House of Lancaster strip club as an outward example of his officers’ dedication and skill set.
The Lake Shore foot patrol continues with four Community Response Unit (CRU) officers walking the beat along the Lakeshore to do enforcement of drug and prostitution activity, for example, but also to promote community engagement and relationship building with both residents and retail store owners.
Last March, former Supt. Ramer launched the Lake Shore foot patrol as a reallocation of officers after he closed the 22 Division substation in the Toronto Police College.
“We also have our neighbourhood officers in the CRU assigned to our at-risk neighbourhoods in 22 Division doing walkabouts, getting to know the people, getting to know who the criminals are. That helps to get quick resolution to crimes,” said Insp. Gerry Cashman, second-in-command at 22 Division.
Residents and business owners can assist the police by calling when they witness something amiss or a crime taking place.
“Talk to us. Come to meet with us. Call us. Let us know what’s going on in your area. If you see something suspicious, be on the phone to us,” Cashman urged. “There is nothing too small that they could talk to us about that we wouldn’t listen.”
The division announces any major police news in south Etobicoke over Twitter, including traffic tie ups.
Bergen is in his 31st year as a Toronto police officer.
He began his career at 52 Division, and returned to Toronto police headquarters downtown each time he was promoted, each time then returning to work at a police division.
He has worked in the service’s employment division, at 51 Division where he was promoted to inspector, on the community mobilization and courts’ units before most recently becoming unit commander of 55 Division in September 2011.