News / Edmonton

Crime prevention experts coming to Edmonton for three days of training

REACH Edmonton and the Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention are teaming up for the session

Jan Fox, Executive Director of REACH.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

Jan Fox, Executive Director of REACH.

Edmonton organizers will share crime prevention strategies and learn new ones at a three-day training session starting Wednesday.

REACH Edmonton and the Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention (CMNCP) have teamed up to bring in 50 crime-prevention practitioners from across the country to discuss and demonstrate evidence-based strategies.

“It’s about looking at root causes and it’s about knowing that if you invest in upfront strategies … you are saving a lot of money down the road on court costs, incarceration, mental health, healthcare costs, all those kinds of things,” said REACH executive director Jan Fox.

Fox said Edmonton is a “shining example” of a city that has put money into upfront prevention strategies, and REACH is a crucial part of that effort.

The group was formed six years ago, after then-Mayor Stephen Mandel appointed a task force including police and a mental health worker to consult with Edmontonians on ways to create safer communities.

The report recommended a dedicated centre of responsibility to create REACH as a "backbone organization" that could mobilize and co-ordinate other organizations, community groups and Edmontonians to find innovative ways to make the city safer.

“It’s not just looking for Band-Aid solutions, but true systemic change,” Fox said.

The Rapid Youth Gang Prevention Strategy, which uses researched practices to keep kids out of gangs, is one example Fox gave of a successful project overseen by REACH.

REACH also works extensively with newcomer groups to help them navigate systems they might be unfamiliar with.

One of its biggest recent successes has been its crisis diversion work with 211, co-ordinating the operation run by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Boyle Street and Hope Mission.

This winter’s especially cold temperatures have led to a spike in 211 calls related specifically to people being outside in the cold without proper clothing.

“We started this because the police told us they were dealing with 18,000 calls for service for social disorder that really were not of a criminal nature, or didn’t require police presence,” Fox said.

“Edmontonians are calling 211 in record numbers to deal with our most vulnerable people, which is such a beautiful Edmonton story.”

This training session will run through Friday at the Radisson Hotel Edmonton South.

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