Walking the beat way of the future for Toronto police

News Dec 07, 2017 by Andrew Palamarchuk North York Mirror

Within minutes of arriving at a Jane Street building, constables Dalida Matias and Nelson Santizo are confronted by a man who claims that police “terrorize” the community.

After the encounter, Matias tells a reporter the vocal man isn’t representative of the neighbourhood.

A few minutes later, the officers have a friendly interaction with an area resident that ends with handshakes.

But, not long after, the constables meet up with a distraught man upset at 31 Division police.

“Thirty-one has never done any good for me,” the man shouts.

Matias calms the man down, clarifies his concerns and urges him to a call a detective at the station. (She later calls the detective herself to explain the man’s situation.)

Matias and Santizo are among four neighbourhood officers embedded in the Black Creek community, which takes in the north side of the Jane-Finch area.

“It’s a fine line between cautioning, warning and enforcing,” said Santizo, suggesting it’s important not to be “heavy-handed” on the job.

Toronto police’s neighbourhood officer program began in 2013, though the concept is not new.

Staff Sgt. Steve Pipe, who oversees the program, was assigned to foot patrol in the Regent Park area when he joined the force in 1977.

“I’ve been a cop for 40 years, so I’ve seen a number of different policing models come and go,” he said, adding walking the beat in a specific neighbourhood was “one of the most effective” models he was ever involved with.

“You got to know all the store owners; you got to know who’s who, like who are the good guys and who are the bad guys,” said Pipe, of the divisional policing support unit. “But, the important piece of that was you established a relationship with these people. They got to know who you were; you got to know who they were. You had a great rapport, and of course, once you have that trust and you have that relationship, then they start telling you things.”

The information often turned out to be fruitful. “You got tons of intelligence. They told you who was selling drugs,” said Pipe. “We solved a lot of crime, but we also kept people happy.”

But that focus on community engagement appeared to shift away in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Pipe suggested.

“The whole premise of what we did in 2013 was we wanted to get back into the neighbourhoods,” he said. “There was a concern that the public, because maybe they lost that sense of having an officer in the neighbourhood — that the trust wasn’t there, meaning from the community to the police. We wanted to bridge that.”

Under the program, officers are dedicated to a neighbourhood full time for three years.

There are currently 75 neighbourhood officers, each assigned to one of 21 communities throughout the city’s 17 police divisions.

The project is expected to expand to include all of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods and the deployment model is in the process of being designed.

Neighbourhood policing will also be the starting point for a career in the Toronto Police Service. It will be a new officer’s year-long first assignment, in the hopes of ensuring that the “professional development of every officer is grounded in embracing partnerships with the residents and communities they serve,” according to the final report by the service’s transformational task force published in January 2017.

The report also states that within three years, neighbourhood officers will have smart mobile devices that give them access to the data, information and software they need to write and file reports and complete other paperwork, regardless of their location. In other words, the “connected officers” won’t need to use mobile workstations in cruisers or return to police stations to work at desktop computers, allowing them to remain in the neighbourhoods longer. The NYPD has a neighbourhood officer program that’s currently piloting some of those devices.

Pipe said neighbourhood-centric policing is the way of the future.

“Neighbourhood officers will be working in partnership with communities and agencies to address crime, disorder and community safety issues, with the understanding that everybody will have a part in problem-solving those issues,” he noted. “It’s going to be joint problem-solving, rather than just one group doing it.”

Jeanine Webber, associate dean of Humber College’s School of Social and Community Services, has been studying and evaluating the program through surveys and focus groups since 2014.

“The program is being well-received. There’s positive feedback from the community members,” Webber said. “People report in the surveys that they believe that the neighbourhood officers are reducing crime within their neighbourhood and that they’re reducing the fear of gang violence.”

Webber’s final report will be published in early 2018.

Santizo, born in Guatemala, grew up on Shoreham Court in the Jane-Finch area, the same community he now patrols.

There was a lot of violence and poverty, much like today, the 13-year veteran constable said.

“Growing up, we didn’t speak to the police,” he said. “Working (at Jane and Finch), I come into contact with a lot of people that I grew up with and (who) knew my family and I knew theirs.”

Returning to Jane-Finch as a cop is something Santizo always wanted and intended to do.

“I felt that maybe my experience growing up may help in some way, and it has,” Santizo said, “It brings back a lot of memories, so I can relate to some of the kids and some of the residents, just because I lived there.”

Walking the beat way of the future for Toronto police

Neighbourhood officer program currently at 21 communities and growing

News Dec 07, 2017 by Andrew Palamarchuk North York Mirror

Within minutes of arriving at a Jane Street building, constables Dalida Matias and Nelson Santizo are confronted by a man who claims that police “terrorize” the community.

After the encounter, Matias tells a reporter the vocal man isn’t representative of the neighbourhood.

A few minutes later, the officers have a friendly interaction with an area resident that ends with handshakes.

But, not long after, the constables meet up with a distraught man upset at 31 Division police.

“Thirty-one has never done any good for me,” the man shouts.

Matias calms the man down, clarifies his concerns and urges him to a call a detective at the station. (She later calls the detective herself to explain the man’s situation.)

Matias and Santizo are among four neighbourhood officers embedded in the Black Creek community, which takes in the north side of the Jane-Finch area.

“It’s a fine line between cautioning, warning and enforcing,” said Santizo, suggesting it’s important not to be “heavy-handed” on the job.

Toronto police’s neighbourhood officer program began in 2013, though the concept is not new.

Staff Sgt. Steve Pipe, who oversees the program, was assigned to foot patrol in the Regent Park area when he joined the force in 1977.

“I’ve been a cop for 40 years, so I’ve seen a number of different policing models come and go,” he said, adding walking the beat in a specific neighbourhood was “one of the most effective” models he was ever involved with.

“You got to know all the store owners; you got to know who’s who, like who are the good guys and who are the bad guys,” said Pipe, of the divisional policing support unit. “But, the important piece of that was you established a relationship with these people. They got to know who you were; you got to know who they were. You had a great rapport, and of course, once you have that trust and you have that relationship, then they start telling you things.”

The information often turned out to be fruitful. “You got tons of intelligence. They told you who was selling drugs,” said Pipe. “We solved a lot of crime, but we also kept people happy.”

But that focus on community engagement appeared to shift away in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Pipe suggested.

“The whole premise of what we did in 2013 was we wanted to get back into the neighbourhoods,” he said. “There was a concern that the public, because maybe they lost that sense of having an officer in the neighbourhood — that the trust wasn’t there, meaning from the community to the police. We wanted to bridge that.”

Under the program, officers are dedicated to a neighbourhood full time for three years.

There are currently 75 neighbourhood officers, each assigned to one of 21 communities throughout the city’s 17 police divisions.

The project is expected to expand to include all of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods and the deployment model is in the process of being designed.

Neighbourhood policing will also be the starting point for a career in the Toronto Police Service. It will be a new officer’s year-long first assignment, in the hopes of ensuring that the “professional development of every officer is grounded in embracing partnerships with the residents and communities they serve,” according to the final report by the service’s transformational task force published in January 2017.

The report also states that within three years, neighbourhood officers will have smart mobile devices that give them access to the data, information and software they need to write and file reports and complete other paperwork, regardless of their location. In other words, the “connected officers” won’t need to use mobile workstations in cruisers or return to police stations to work at desktop computers, allowing them to remain in the neighbourhoods longer. The NYPD has a neighbourhood officer program that’s currently piloting some of those devices.

Pipe said neighbourhood-centric policing is the way of the future.

“Neighbourhood officers will be working in partnership with communities and agencies to address crime, disorder and community safety issues, with the understanding that everybody will have a part in problem-solving those issues,” he noted. “It’s going to be joint problem-solving, rather than just one group doing it.”

Jeanine Webber, associate dean of Humber College’s School of Social and Community Services, has been studying and evaluating the program through surveys and focus groups since 2014.

“The program is being well-received. There’s positive feedback from the community members,” Webber said. “People report in the surveys that they believe that the neighbourhood officers are reducing crime within their neighbourhood and that they’re reducing the fear of gang violence.”

Webber’s final report will be published in early 2018.

Santizo, born in Guatemala, grew up on Shoreham Court in the Jane-Finch area, the same community he now patrols.

There was a lot of violence and poverty, much like today, the 13-year veteran constable said.

“Growing up, we didn’t speak to the police,” he said. “Working (at Jane and Finch), I come into contact with a lot of people that I grew up with and (who) knew my family and I knew theirs.”

Returning to Jane-Finch as a cop is something Santizo always wanted and intended to do.

“I felt that maybe my experience growing up may help in some way, and it has,” Santizo said, “It brings back a lot of memories, so I can relate to some of the kids and some of the residents, just because I lived there.”

Walking the beat way of the future for Toronto police

Neighbourhood officer program currently at 21 communities and growing

News Dec 07, 2017 by Andrew Palamarchuk North York Mirror

Within minutes of arriving at a Jane Street building, constables Dalida Matias and Nelson Santizo are confronted by a man who claims that police “terrorize” the community.

After the encounter, Matias tells a reporter the vocal man isn’t representative of the neighbourhood.

A few minutes later, the officers have a friendly interaction with an area resident that ends with handshakes.

But, not long after, the constables meet up with a distraught man upset at 31 Division police.

“Thirty-one has never done any good for me,” the man shouts.

Matias calms the man down, clarifies his concerns and urges him to a call a detective at the station. (She later calls the detective herself to explain the man’s situation.)

Matias and Santizo are among four neighbourhood officers embedded in the Black Creek community, which takes in the north side of the Jane-Finch area.

“It’s a fine line between cautioning, warning and enforcing,” said Santizo, suggesting it’s important not to be “heavy-handed” on the job.

Toronto police’s neighbourhood officer program began in 2013, though the concept is not new.

Staff Sgt. Steve Pipe, who oversees the program, was assigned to foot patrol in the Regent Park area when he joined the force in 1977.

“I’ve been a cop for 40 years, so I’ve seen a number of different policing models come and go,” he said, adding walking the beat in a specific neighbourhood was “one of the most effective” models he was ever involved with.

“You got to know all the store owners; you got to know who’s who, like who are the good guys and who are the bad guys,” said Pipe, of the divisional policing support unit. “But, the important piece of that was you established a relationship with these people. They got to know who you were; you got to know who they were. You had a great rapport, and of course, once you have that trust and you have that relationship, then they start telling you things.”

The information often turned out to be fruitful. “You got tons of intelligence. They told you who was selling drugs,” said Pipe. “We solved a lot of crime, but we also kept people happy.”

But that focus on community engagement appeared to shift away in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Pipe suggested.

“The whole premise of what we did in 2013 was we wanted to get back into the neighbourhoods,” he said. “There was a concern that the public, because maybe they lost that sense of having an officer in the neighbourhood — that the trust wasn’t there, meaning from the community to the police. We wanted to bridge that.”

Under the program, officers are dedicated to a neighbourhood full time for three years.

There are currently 75 neighbourhood officers, each assigned to one of 21 communities throughout the city’s 17 police divisions.

The project is expected to expand to include all of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods and the deployment model is in the process of being designed.

Neighbourhood policing will also be the starting point for a career in the Toronto Police Service. It will be a new officer’s year-long first assignment, in the hopes of ensuring that the “professional development of every officer is grounded in embracing partnerships with the residents and communities they serve,” according to the final report by the service’s transformational task force published in January 2017.

The report also states that within three years, neighbourhood officers will have smart mobile devices that give them access to the data, information and software they need to write and file reports and complete other paperwork, regardless of their location. In other words, the “connected officers” won’t need to use mobile workstations in cruisers or return to police stations to work at desktop computers, allowing them to remain in the neighbourhoods longer. The NYPD has a neighbourhood officer program that’s currently piloting some of those devices.

Pipe said neighbourhood-centric policing is the way of the future.

“Neighbourhood officers will be working in partnership with communities and agencies to address crime, disorder and community safety issues, with the understanding that everybody will have a part in problem-solving those issues,” he noted. “It’s going to be joint problem-solving, rather than just one group doing it.”

Jeanine Webber, associate dean of Humber College’s School of Social and Community Services, has been studying and evaluating the program through surveys and focus groups since 2014.

“The program is being well-received. There’s positive feedback from the community members,” Webber said. “People report in the surveys that they believe that the neighbourhood officers are reducing crime within their neighbourhood and that they’re reducing the fear of gang violence.”

Webber’s final report will be published in early 2018.

Santizo, born in Guatemala, grew up on Shoreham Court in the Jane-Finch area, the same community he now patrols.

There was a lot of violence and poverty, much like today, the 13-year veteran constable said.

“Growing up, we didn’t speak to the police,” he said. “Working (at Jane and Finch), I come into contact with a lot of people that I grew up with and (who) knew my family and I knew theirs.”

Returning to Jane-Finch as a cop is something Santizo always wanted and intended to do.

“I felt that maybe my experience growing up may help in some way, and it has,” Santizo said, “It brings back a lot of memories, so I can relate to some of the kids and some of the residents, just because I lived there.”