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Crisis prevention plan introduced to Portage

Sgt. Brian Brewer (left) and community liason officer Sean O'Keefe (right) speaking with community members during Tuesday's community mobilization meeting at Stride Place in Portage la Prairie. (Aaron Wilgosh/The Graphic)

Sgt. Brian Brewer (left) and community liason officer Sean O'Keefe (right) speaking with community members during Tuesday's community mobilization meeting at Stride Place in Portage la Prairie. (Aaron Wilgosh/The Graphic)

Aaron Wilgosh - The Graphic/Herald Leader Contributor

It takes a village to raise a child, and a community to help those in need.

That same mentality is being used by communities across the country as part of a community safety and well-being model created in Prince Albert, Sask. Dr. Chad Nilson helped get the idea off the ground in Prince Albert and on Tuesday afternoon, outlined how it may be beneficial for groups in Portage la Prairie to band together, during a community mobilization meeting at Stride Place.

“It starts with a few organizations that want to try something different by working together, and sharing ownership in the community,” says Dr. Nilson. “Relationships between high-risk families, police, and social services needs to be improved because they should be going to people before they’re in crisis. Our system is designed to help people when they are in crisis and that’s too late.”

Nilson says community groups in Saskatchewan noticed social and community services were filling up and crime was steadily on the rise, and something desperately needed to be done. The groups decided to work together to create change rather than wait for new situations to arise.

The group meets a few times a month to focus on specific social issues or clients who may be dealing with things like drug abuse, family abuse, crime, teen pregnancy, school issues, or any other problems citizens in the community may be dealing with. They'll then work together to find ways to solve those issues or use rapid intervention to ensure the safety of those involved.

“The city of Portage will support a group like this 100 per cent,” says Portage city manager, Jean-Marc Nadeau. “It’s up to the agencies to get something up and running though. This isn’t something that can just be set up by the city or the RCMP, but the idea of it happening here is exciting.”

Several members from organizations around Portage took in the seminar including the Portage Community Revitalization Corporation, Child and Family Services, the Portage la Prairie School Division, Portage RCMP. Many seemed to be in favour of the idea but realize it takes a lot of work to get initiatives like this one off the ground.

RCMP community liaison officer Sean O’Keefe is all for the idea and understands other models have been implemented and failed, but with a commitment from organizations, it’s worth a shot to help reduce crime.

“We saw a few more violent crimes than we’re used to this summer and any model that would see a drop in (emergency) services responding and getting people in contact with the resources they need in the first place is something that should be welcomed,” adds O’Keefe. “We’re hoping in the coming weeks we’ll all be able to get together and get something going.”

It was stressed the model only works with the commitment from the community groups and a drive to work 'upstream' to create change.



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