Guelph police introduce new downtown resource officers

Guelph police say the primary responsibilities of their four new downtown resource officers are to be visible and to engage with the community.

At a news conference at police headquarters on Thursday afternoon, Const. Adam Shutsa, Const. Carson Skipper and Const. James Perdicaris were introduced to the media.

A fourth officer assigned exclusively to the downtown area, Const. Dan Urbshas, works the nightshift and was not in attendance.

The officers were among those who volunteered for the assignment and were chosen for a variety of reasons, partly because of their “unique connection to the downtown,” Guelph police said.

Skipper, Perdicaris and Urbshas all attended the University of Guelph and Shutsa worked in the downtown core before becoming a police officer.

The four young officers will be joining 18-year veteran Const. Mark O’Connell who has been the city’s sole downtown resource officer since July.

“These officers are going to primarily interact with the community, being visible and being engaged,” said Sgt. Dustan Howe, who is heading up the six-month pilot project, starting April 1.

“The purpose of the pilot is to gather statistics, gain more information, see what’s going well, see what’s not going well and then look at it again at the conclusion, but we will be looking at it all the way through.”

Howe said the initiative could be adjusted when the pilot ends in September.

The officers will be doing most of their work on foot and are expected to engage the community in a variety of ways, whether it be attending events, stopping by outreach centres, or speaking to businesses and folks downtown.

They will be getting specialized training on community policing, problem-solving, engagement and partnering with outreach workers.

While the four officers may not be downtown 24-hours a day, Howe said they will be there when it’s busiest. They will also not be pulled out of the downtown area for calls.

They will also be complementing policing units already downtown with the idea that those units can respond to calls, while the downtown resource officers can focus on engagement.

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