Forest Lawn beat team cutting down crime, say Calgary police
Calgary police say foot patrol have been making inroads since July
Calgary police are changing the culture of crime one step at a time in Forest Lawn.
Beat teams have been patrolling the community 18 to 20 hours a day, seven days a week, on foot since July.
"It's getting better all the time," said Const. Graham Ernst. "I think that's part of what this [International Avenue] beat team is all about. We're just trying to take that momentum and run with it."
Ernst and his foot patrol partner, Const. Ricardo Jimenez, have been working together in the area for more than a month.
They join 14 other officers who rotate between day and night shifts. The biggest payoff for police is gathering street intelligence.
"We're quickly learning who's who in the zoo and you're quickly learning names and seeing them a lot in the area," said Jimenez.
Police patrol comforting, says resident
Raida Abouarabi and her family have lived in the neighbourhood for years. This recent police patrol in their own backyard is comforting.
"I mean there's a bigger picture out here right," said Abourarabi. "It's easy to point fingers on the crime and different people walking up and down the street. But the presence really makes a difference."
This operation is focusing on prostitution and drug problems in and around International Avenue. A police operation in Forest Lawn in June netted 16 drug-related charges and 23 alleged sex trade offenders.
"It is a little bit like COPS the television show sometimes," said Ernst. "Ninety-nine per cent of the time it's nice and slow and then every now and again something a little more dynamic happens."
The beat team is also interacting with children in the area through schools, recreation programs and summer camps. Police say they are also working on a new youth initiative that will launch this fall.