Members of The Watch in Lethbridge have been recognized for their contribution to community justice, according to the Lethbridge Police Service (LPS).
Manager Jeff Cove and two Watch members accepted the 2022 Community Justice award on behalf of the LPS volunteer-based program at a ceremony hosted by the ministry of justice and solicitor general in Lacombe Friday.
“The Watch has been exemplary in demonstrating innovation, service enhancement, community mobilization and partnership all in working with the Lethbridge Police Service to create a safe community for all,” said Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh.
Community Justice Awards acknowledge the efforts of individuals, youth, organizations, businesses, and community groups who have made contributions to community justice through sustainable and effective crime prevention, victim service, youth justice committee, or restorative justice work in Alberta, according to LPS. The Watch was selected for an award in the “partnerships and collaboration” category.
“We have an incredible group of volunteers who work with our team leads, giving the greatest gift that they can give to their community and the people in it — themselves, and their time,” said Cove, who was a volunteer with the program for its first nine months. “This is a very remarkable group and I thank them for doing what they do for others every day, and for allowing me to represent them as their program manager.”
LPS said the goal of The Watch program is to make the community safer through social outreach, connection, and intervention. Police say it provides a visible deterrence to negative behaviours and crime and manages a range of issues and events that do not require police involvement.
Since its inception in May 2019, 106 people have served with The Watch. Currently 32 members patrol the downtown area on foot. They connect people with provincial and local support agencies and organizations including Alberta’s virtual opioid dependency program, and provide safe walk services.
The Watch also acts in time of medical emergency, police said. This year through May, it has managed 23 emergency medical service events, including 13 occasions where they administered nasal Narcan and lifesaving first aid.