REACH Edmonton

Police connected with Edmonton’s immigrant and refugee youth recently during the Police and Youth Engagement Program (PYEP), Aug. 4 -8.

The week-long program gave youth and Edmonton police officers a chance to build relationships with teens in a positive way.

"PYEP aims to bring police and youth together, remove misconceptions on both sides, build trust, and create a safe and comfortable environment in which dialogue can occur,” said Hawa Barud, Coordinator of the PYEP program in 2015.

This allows youth to become ambassadors within their own respective communities as the program expands police knowledge about certain ethnocultural communities and the issues that affect them.

“It also allows youth to foster positive relationships with the police that can overcome previously held negative opinions about police and their role in the community,” said Barud. “As a previous participant and a person from one of the ethnocultural communities, my experience has given me a greater understanding of the importance of discourse between youth and Edmonton police.”

In its second year, PYEP has shown that cultivating positive relationships between youth and police is a successful tactic for keeping youth away from crime.

“REACH is committed to supporting programs that improve relationships between immigrant communities and police because we know that initiatives like this are preventative and will make Edmonton a safer city for everyone,” said Lindsay Daniller, Director of Community Initiatives and Development at REACH Edmonton.

Highlights of the 2015 program included a walkaround with police on their beat, and obstacle course and an activity with beat-boxing peace officer of Internet fame, Halley Barrantes.

"PYEP is a platform for police to engage with Edmonton’s ethnocultural youth and initiate a positive connection," said Acting Sergeant, Harpreet Jhinjar of Community Operations Support Unit. "Engaging with the youth is an essential part in establishing and building long-term relationships with these communities."

PYEP is free to participants and is supported by the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Police Foundation, Edmonton Police Service and REACH Edmonton.