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'We don't feel safe': Pleasant Hill Community Association calls on police to do more


Members of Pleasant Hill Community Association requested more preventative policing measures at the Saskatoon' Board of Police Commissioners meeting Thursday before a vote approving its 2024 and 2025 budgets.

Ruth Reimer and Shane Patridge approached the board to request two alternative response officers be dedicated to the neighbourhood at least three days a week over the next four years to create a the Pleasant Hill alternative response pilot project.

Reimer doesn't want Pleasant Hill to just be known for crime, homelessness or gangs or violence.

"That is not Pleasant Hill. Pleasant Hill is made up of families trying to break free from intergenerational trauma, and give their kids a better life," Reimer said.

"These people keep telling us we don't feel safe."

According to Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) data used by Reimer, the neighbourhood is home to about two per cent of Saskatoon's population, but accounted for 20 per cent of the city's homicides, roughly a third of attempted murders and nearly a quarter of all robberies last year.

Rather than have more resources go to organizations looking to bring transitional housing, homeless shelters or harm reduction to the area, Pleasant Hill Community Association would like police to directly help residents.

"Haven't we hosted enough trauma?" Reimer said. "Help us change the narrative. Give our kids and families a chance."

Alternative response officers -- often referred to as ARO's -- are unarmed, uniformed members of police who help facilitate outreach and referrals for vulnerable people, as well as assisting patrol officers.

They often respond to complaints in the Riversdale and downtown areas, and also help transport people who have been arrested.

Reimer's plea came as the board was set to finalize the 2024 and 2025 budgets for police.

Chief Troy Cooper says with limited resources, the service moves officers around as they are needed, but police don't have officers dedicated specifically to the neighbourhood.

"The first thing we need to do is look at what our resources are, analyze the entire community, find out where those resources are and what type of resources are best there, and then apply them," Cooper said.

Shane Partridge is a member of the Pleasant Hill Community Association, and he says a disconnect between police and residents of the area have long existed.

"The people in Pleasant Hill have repeated for at least a decade now that they desire improved relations with SPS," he said. "Every year, we tell the city that we need to invest in prevention in our community, (and) invest in relationships — the residents are tired of sounding like a broken record.

"We need a police presence in our community not like the other communities."

Partridge says people in Pleasant Hill don't trust police like they'd want to.

According to SPS, there are currently 10 AROs.

In 2020, SPS launched the Community Mobilization Unit to patrol the area around Prairie Harm Reduction. The service is requesting three more officers for the unit as part of its 2024-2025 budget ask to city council.

Cooper said the Confederation shopping area and Fairhaven neighbourhoods are "under stress" and are using more police resources for the time being.

"I'm disappointed to hear that our community mobilization officers aren't sort of meeting the billing," he said.

Ultimately, the board unanimously approved the SPS budget of $134,055,700 in 2024, and $121,393,300 for 2025. However, those budgets could be impacted as soon as Nov. 16.

Cooper says there is a cost-matching arrangement being worked on with the province about the creation of new alternative response officer positions.

In the weeks since SPS calculated its budget, the Saskatoon Tribal Council announced evictions of up to 30 people from its Emergency Wellness Centre.

Then the province announced two plans to address homelessness, addictions and mental health, with funding allocated for community safety officers to patrol the areas around new shelter facilities.

Cooper expects two new AROs could be hired by the end of 2023, and another four hired in 2024, with the funding. Top Stories

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