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Citizens, sworn Calgary police officers honoured for community crime-fighting efforts

Calgarian Sydni Brix felt as though it was a message that needed to get through to her peers.

Drinking and driving isn’t cool.

The 18-year-old, Sir Winston Churchill student, started with Students Against Drinking and Driving when she lived in Carstairs seven years ago and wanted to continue bringing that message with her to Calgary when she relocated to the city.

She’s now being honoured for her work in leading and developing a white ribbon campaign for Calgary Police Service vehicles. Brix, whose aunt has worked for the city police for 16 years, also coordinated with CPS a display that showed the real-life consequences of drinking and driving, by having a truck involved in a fatal alcohol-related crash shown at her school.

Brix is one of 11 being recognized at the Calgary Police Commission’s annual Community Policing Awards Tuesday night. The awards recognized those community members and organizations, along with sworn members of the service, who are spearheading the effort to bring the community and policing together for a safer city.

“It impacts people in a different way than MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) does, because people are like, ‘OK we have kids out here who are going around and spreading this message and they’re only 17, 18, or 19 years old,’” Brix said of her anti-drunk driving message.

Her nominator, Cst. Sheldon Hamm, said she demonstrated a real leadership in this area.

“Sydni helped deliver SADD’s message alongside the efforts of CPS to educate citizens about the dangers of impaired driving. She demonstrated a great deal of confidence, courage, and leadership by spearheading these activities on her own,” Hamm said in a CPC statement.

Brian Thiessen, chair of the CPC, said recognizing these individuals for their work puts the CPS community policing model at the forefront.

“The premise of that is that CPS members need to consider themselves community members first – and in turn they need willing partners in the community,” he said, noting that in some jurisdictions the relationship between police and citizens is an “us versus them” situation.

“It’s an amazing celebration of these community members… that actually took it upon themselves to actually say, ‘how can I help?’”

He said in Brix’s case, when she approached the CPS, they jumped at the opportunity to help her get the message out about reducing drunk driving fatalities.

“I think it’s important when they make such extraordinary efforts that we celebrate them.”


Other recipients this year are  (from CPC backgrounder):

Heather Morley & Elsbeth Mehrer, YWCA

Through the leadership and commitment of these two YWCA vice-presidents, a highly successful program is able to continue to support people dealing with chronic and high risk domestic conflict.

Mike Shaikh

Mike Shaikh is extremely active in supporting the Calgary community, and has played a significant role supporting the Calgary Police Service.

For eight years, he served on the Calgary Police Commission. In his role as Chair, he provided guidance and on financial matters, guided policies to make Calgary’s streets safer, and ensured police remained accountable to citizens.

During his time on the Commission, he was instrumental in forming the Calgary Police Foundation. To get the Foundation off the ground, he created a powerful fundraising team that included 2017 Community Policing Award recipients Brian Ferguson and Jim Prentice. The team raised more than $12 million to establish the Foundation which has successfully turned their vision for crime prevention programs for youth into a reality.

CPS Sworn Member category: Sgt. Gareth Joels & Cst. Garry Woods

As members of the Calgary Police Service Diversity Team, their work involves building bridges between police and residents from diverse cultures, especially new immigrants to Canada. When they saw that CPS did not have any resources about policing and safety in languages other than English, they took action.

Together, they decided to create a newcomers guide for adults, with translations available in seven different languages – English, Spanish, Punjabi, Hindi, Arabic, Somali, and Tagalog.

CPS Sworn Member category: Social Media Officers – Csts. Riley Babott, Jeremy Shaw & Mark Smith

Since CPS started using social media in 2013, the number of followers has increased significantly thanks to the engaging content and engagement with the community. With over 300,000 followers on Twitter and Facebook, CPS is able to reach more citizens than through traditional media. It is not unheard of for some posts to reach over one million people.

Community Organization category: Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society

The Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society is a full-service emergency shelter that provides essential community services to women and children who have experienced family violence and abuse.

The society serves a critical role in Calgary and its surrounding area. It has guided thousands of local families from all backgrounds, religions and ethnicities through life’s most difficult experiences. The society has taken the additional step to develop a strong relationship with the Calgary Police Service, often educating and enlightening officers on traditional healing practices and extending invitations to ceremonial events and marches.

In addition to operating a shelter, Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society also creates opportunities to bring the Calgary community together, such as the Red Dress Project. This campaign honours and raises awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Corporate Organization category: Alberta Health Services

Alberta Health Services was a key driver, architect and champion of the development of the first provincial supervised consumption site. Supported by both the City and the province, the site was created as a direct response to the opioid crisis that claimed the lives of more than 200 Calgarians in 2017 alone.