EPS officers build positive relationships with African ethnocultural youth

EDMONTON - Police are connecting with Edmonton’s immigrant and refugee youth this week as the Police and Youth Engagement Program (PYEP) runs Aug. 4 -8.

This week-long program gives 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 ethno-cultural 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 ethno-cultural 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.

"PYEP is a platform for police to engage with Edmonton’s ethno-cultural youth and initiate a positive connection," says 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 a free to participants and is supported by the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Police Foundation, Edmonton Police Service and REACH Edmonton.

Media are invited to take a closer look at the effect the program is having on local youth by attending a media opportunity this week:

• Beats Walk Along and Police and Youth Informal Discussion Thursday, Aug. 6 – McCauley Neighbourhood 1:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

• Obstacle course Saturday, Aug. 8 – Griesbach Training Centre (14310 – 109 Street) 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

• Closing Ceremony Saturday, Aug. 8 – Edmonton Intercultural Centre (9538 – 107 Ave) 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

For more information, or to participate in one of the media availabilities, please contact Marilyn Gray at (587) 991-3142 or Marilyn.Gray@reachedmonton.ca.