PYEP helped officers build positive relationships with African youth

This summer, police connected Edmonton’s immigrant and refugee youth as the Police and Youth Engagement Program (PYEP) operated for its second year.

The program was planned and organized through partnerships with police, REACH Edmonton, and community leaders who were instrumental in recruiting youth to participate.

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

This year, 43 youth participated from the Eritrean, Ethiopian, Oromo, Somali and Sudanese refugee communities.

The day-camp offered youth a safe learning environment and increased their comfort in relating to the police, exposed them to issues around preventing problems, and built connections across communities in Edmonton.

"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 PYEP 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.

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

"PYEP is a platform for police to engage with Edmonton’s ethno-cultural 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.

“PYEP has validated youth at a vulnerable age and stage in their lives,” said an evaluation of the 2015 program. “[It has] given them a sense that they can be engaged citizens and valued leaders in the community.”