The Estevan Police Service have announced their community programming officer. Monica Rae, who has a social work background will be heading the test pilot project for one year.
"Monica is our new community programming officer," explained Police Chief, Paul Ladouceur, "and she will be responsible for community engagement within our city when it comes to police interacting with the public in nontraditional ways. Those events that we often have such as open houses, our 24-hour relay, our youth nights, she will be responsible for all of that."
"More importantly, she will be responsible for our programming in our schools looking at education and prevention when it comes to crime and living a healthy lifestyle. She will be in the schools."
She will also visit other groups such as senior homes and newcomers events.
"We've seen so many seniors that have fallen victim to fraud scams and have been bilked out of their savings. it's really important to get out there and educate those individuals and make sure they're safe."
This role was originally staffed by a full-time police officer, but the role was changed after budget concerns and other factors.
"Also the aspect of being able to approach people and talk to people who might otherwise be a bit intimidated or feel threatened from a full-fledged uniformed police officer. Whether it be newcomers who may not have the same level of trust of police in other countries or whether it be students feeling more open to have those discussions freely with somebody."
Ladouceur notes, however, that this doesn't mean that uniformed officers will not be present in schools or at events.
"This supplements some of that work that we're already doing. For example, if she's doing an education session in one of the schools, she may call a police officer in."
He added that the school resource officer was one that was difficult to fill because as soon as the police needed another member, they would take the resource officer to fill that spot.
"What we found is our school resource officer was away from the schools more than they were in the schools."
The EPS is also running an 'Adopt a Cop' program where two officers will be assigned to a school and be engaged with those schools.
"Monica will have those officers come in to co-educate. This is not a loss of officers in the schools, this is a supplement to the police in the schools. We can't stress enough the fact that we want to get to our youth when they're young because that's the time it matters most."
"It is a trial. We want to see if we can build success out of this. I think we will, I think we will see the program work very well."