The anticipated loss of the community policing unit in Saint John, N.B. has community leaders speaking out.
Officers currently assigned to community offices are expected to return to patrol services in the new year following a major cut to the police department’s budget according to the Saint John Police Association.
A group of neighbourhood leaders has come forward in an effort to keep community policing alive and well.
Julie Baribault, of the group West Side Police and Community Together (P.A.C.T.), says area children, including her own, see the officers as role models.
“It helps to deter property damage, vandalism, those types of things in our neighbourhood,” said Baribault.
People who live and work in Saint John’s “old north end” say that part of the city has gone to having the highest crime rate to one of the lowest and community policing deserves much of the credit.
“This has been the evolution that has taken place over the years and, truly, it’s about the development of a trust relationship versus an adversarial relationship between the police and community,” said Barry Galloway of the group One Change.
WATCH: Saint John police say budget cuts could affect community policing
Galloway says that trust was demonstrated this past summer when word spread that drug dealers had moved into the neighbourhood.
“Residents came to me almost immediately,” said Galloway.
“We addressed it with police. Within a couple of weeks those individuals were arrested”.
The various groups are coming together to speak with one voice. The Neighbourhood Action Group is writing the Saint John Police Commission to express what are being called grave concerns.