The Newton News provides an opportunity for the Newton BIA to gain awareness in the community and promote local news, & BIA programs.This endeavor allows BIA members to advertise their businesses in the monthly publication.
COMMUNITY SAFETY PATROL
KINDNESS IS NOT ONLY ABOUT WHAT YOU DO, BUT HOW YOU DO IT
When was the last time you did something kind for a stranger? It feels good to make someone else smile. Simple acts of kindness can transform a person’s horrible day into a good one, and a struggling community becomes a very successful one.
It’s a daily experience for the Community Safety Patrol in Newton. The Newton Safety Unit is a collaborative weekly safety initiative for the Newton Town Centre. It consists of a weekly meeting with RCMP, Community Safety Patrol, Surrey Crime Prevention, Surrey Bylaw, and other community stakeholders to create weekly targets and initiatives to increase communication, effectiveness, and ultimately decrease crime within Newton.
The Community Safety Patrol is BIA’s largest safety initiative. They are responsible for non-core police duties, which allows the local RCMP to take on more critical issues. Together with Sources, the RCMP, and other organizations, they bridge the gap between the most vulnerable on the streets every day and the community.
Originally contracted under the RCMP, the Commissionaires have been patrolling Newton since 2014 when picked up by the Newton BIA.
Commissionaires, chosen by Forbes as one of Canada’s best employers for 2020, is Canada’s largest private-sector employer of veterans and the only national not-for-profit security company.
The local unit received the Commisionnaire’s Commandants Award for Outstanding Service in 2017, and 2019.
Newton BIA Executive Director, Philip Aguirre adds, “The strength of our program is the fact that we use all of the intelligence that we gather and leverage it through the Newton Safety Unit, a weekly partner collaboration with bylaw, social services, the RCMP and the Community Centre to ensure we’re all achieving a higher level of result by working together”
RCMP Cpl. Bob Keay has seen the positives.
“I have had the pleasure of working with the Philip Aguirre and the Commissionaires for the past 2 1/2 years. The key to their success is connecting agencies and opening up dialogue to make change.”
Over the past six years, they have seen a significant reduction in specific crime trends.
From 2016-2018, the Community Safety Patrol noticed a 41% reduction in emergency services needs, therefore reducing the strain on emergency services. Through their BIA funded SafeRide program, local persons suffering from alcohol abuse get a free taxi ride to a sobering centre, which helps free up local emergency responders and saving the city large amounts of money.
The current team, supervisor Elvin Nigam, Lisa Ouyang, and Dominic Fricker have busy daily eight-hour days. Weekly they meet together to discuss how to best address the homelessness, health needs and concerns of the community, including businesses in the area.
A day in the life of a Newton Commissionaire varies, Elvin says, “Essentially, it’s a lot of walking. And dependent on the day, there are meetings with the RCMP, Transit Police, and various outreach agencies. We deal with any call for service from any of the 350 plus businesses in the area, and we proactively patrol the area.
They have a kinder, more compassionate approach to the vulnerable people in the area than many other communities and cities. Elvin said, “We have a large outreach component. The vulnerable people that we encounter in the camps know us by name, and we know them.
“At the end of the day, when you strip titles away, we’re all just human beings. It’s very easy to get caught up in your routine, your world. But, when we’re able to help, it’s the difference that we want to make”.
As reported from Dr. Bonnie Henry last week, B.C. has a record number of overdose deaths in May. Lisa said, “We saw an overdose yesterday where a guy died. It was really sad. I wish we were there faster, so we could save him.”
“We can help them where they are if they are open to accepting help. If someone is overdosing, we’re there with naloxone to respond.” Elvin added.
Lisa Ouyang’s compassion for the vulnerable community began when she worked in the downtown Eastside at a McDonalds.
“I’ve always liked working with people. Not the stereotype is true about the vulnerable. They deserve our help. I love being a Commissionaire. To come out every day and help people. I think I have a sense of purpose now.”
Elvin grew up in Newton and graduated from Frank Hurt. “I love working with the BIA. I like how we are a bridge between all of the groups, the RCMP, the helping programs, and more. We deal with vulnerable people, work with businesses and try to make Newton a nicer place to be.
“The homeless count is something we assist the BIA and local outreach programs. It helps the services available identify their resource allocation.”
They have a weekly walk with local outreach agencies, such as Sources to connect those in need with the appropriate services.
The Community Safety Patrol reaches out to the people who may be struggling for housing, health care, recovery, or various needs. in their walks, they get to know most of the people by name. It’s that personal
relationship that makes a difference.
Jay Blaschuk, Housing Support Services Manager at Sources, recognizes the importance of a one-on-one relationship with the people that the team encounters.
Jay says, “The Newton Safety Unit is out there in the streets, making it a nicer place to live. Cleaning up the graffiti, picking up the garbage, making it a place that people want to live in, that they feel safe in.”
But sometimes people run into problems that make them seem insurmountable.
“Everyone’s vulnerable at some level”, Jay says. “If someone is struggling with housing needs, that’s where we (Sources) can help. We are primarily advocates for tenants but also a lot more. When I’m there, Elvin and Lisa and make a face to face introduction to me. That’s an open door to help reduce some of the challenges that people can face; getting driver licenses back; finding housing, food insecurity; for folks to get back on solid ground. People are more comfortable putting a face to a name when it comes to asking for help. They’re more comfortable then, saying, “Jay, I need some help.”
Along with Sources, the team has a weekly walk with the RCMP Police Metal Health Outreach team (PMHOT). The Community Safety Program brings the members out to the camps and the people around Newton that need help. It’s a much gentler approach. The fruit of that approach is crime reduction.