Windsor police working to reestablish neighbourhood officer program

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The Windsor Police Service is working to reestablish and expand a program that has specific officers assigned to individual neighbourhoods as a way to address the needs of those areas of the city.

Speaking after Tuesday's Windsor Police Services Board meeting, police chief Jason Bellaire said that the neighbourhood officer program began before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but it was put on hold due to restrictions around in-person meetings and other policing needs during the pandemic.

Bellaire wants to amplify the growth of the neighbourhood officer program, allowing specific officers to advocate for neighbourhoods inside the police service, which would provide a comprehensive understanding of what the neighbourhood is requesting.

"If we have a neighbourhood officer assigned there, who spends their time with that community working through all those strategies, that particular officer can come back inside our organization and advocate for services which would pivot resources within, to prioritize a certain area based on what they had to say," he says.

Chief Bellaire says he thinks the neighbourhood officer program will be very impactful within the community.

"At the Windsor police right now, at the command level, are certainly open to what the community has to say. When we sit down at these tables and we have conversations, you will see more than what you've seen in the past," he says. "Not that we don't do anything, we work very hard and our officers do tremendous work, sometimes what they need is the leadership to create a structure for them to provide that amazing assistance that they give the community."

The service is also working to bring back the former Downtown Windsor Safety and Security Roundtable as part of efforts to learn what that community needs, while addressing reality versus perception when it comes to issues in the core.